For anyone who has social anxiety, you would probably rather spend your holidays doing something like this:
Rather than something like this:
Let’s face it. Parties are mentally–maybe even physically–exhausting for those of us who are introverted. But social anxiety is not the same as introversion and for those of us who experience social anxiety, it is more like emotional and mental torture than simple exhaustion. The thought of going to a holiday party makes me want to cringe.
The exception to this would be holiday parties with my family and close friends where I know everyone and feel comfortable talking to everyone. However, when I am invited to a holiday party where I will only know one or two people among a crowd, I will more than likely find one reason or another to decline.
Take Christmas eve for instance. I was invited to spend the evening at my landlord’s Christmas dinner for his family which I quickly excused myself from with a fabricated “prior commitment”. Personally, I find the idea of spending time with my landlord and his family to be quite strange in and of itself, but add on the anxiety of having to talk to complete strangers and eat dinner with them? I would rather sit alone in the dark with all of the lights out pretending not to be home than go to that party. And that is exactly what I did.
For those of you who have never experienced social anxiety, you might find it difficult to relate to the experiences of your loved ones or even begin to understand why they seem to be so flaky with social engagements. To you I say please try to understand that anxiety is a real issue with very real and very uncomfortable symptoms. If you really want to see a friend or a loved one over the holidays but they decline every party invite you send their way maybe you should try inviting them to coffee or lunch or a girls (or guys) night in. I can’t speak for everyone, but I find it much more enjoyable to spend time with someone one-on-one as opposed to going to a party. For starters, you get to spend more time talking to each other and catching up, but it also feels less overwhelming and anxiety provoking than going to a holiday party.
Food for thought for all of you party-goers!