I want to stand in the back of the room. Please, just let me go home and climb into my bed and don't make me talk to anyone, I'm pleading in my head. I'm so uncomfortable in these situations. Small talk. Meeting new people. I want to meet new people. I just don't want to go through the process of meeting them.
I am most comfortable standing in the back of the room, letting people come to me and talk to the awkward girl who is pretending to be very involved in the drink that she's holding. I occasionally look up and make eye contact at someone, give a smile and then immediately look down. Just in case it wasn't me they were looking at. When it comes time to find a seat with a bunch of strangers I don't know, I panic, searching for the most friendly looking face I can find with an open seat nearby. Once I'm seated, I look down, I look around, I pretend to be very interested in the popcorn ceiling. And then when I can't take it anymore, when I feel like everyone is talking but me, I take a deep breath and lean over to my right and ask about their children, their job, if they live in the city.
I am incredibly shy in a room of people I don't know. I've been shy since I was a young child. But at this age, I can usually fake my way through a lunch or dinner with people I don't know. I recently went to a work function and though I was there with a co-worker, I was still so uncomfortable I could feel the hives creeping up my chest. But I did it. I made small talk with the two people to my left. And as I was leaving, I was confident they thought I wasn't just the weird girl with the voice screaming in her head to just let her stand in the back away from all the normal people. Talking later to my coworker, he was shocked to hear how uncomfortable I was, that he never would've guessed. "I'm just good at faking it", I told him.
It's something I've become accustomed to, to feeling awkward in social situations. I deal much better when there is an Internet between us. Emails? Fine. I'll chat with you all day long. Phone calls? Well, at least you can't see me biting my nails in my anxious state. Face to face? Yeah, those red splotches? Hives because all I want to do is run away from you. And please don't take it personally. It's not you, it's me. But because my job now depends on me not being so awkward, I'm trying my best. I'm putting on my best smile, and the outfit I feel the most confident in, and I'm gathering all of the small talk tidbits I've learned in my life, and I'm talking to you. But please don't look at those red splotches. Pretend you don't see them. Because if you mention them, chances are they'll only get worse and spread to my face.
So tell me I'm not alone. Tell me you have social fears, too?