A Brutally Raw Insight into Social Anxiety. {Poem}

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party alone

When Strangers Dictate Your Calm

Count to ten.
Breathe.
You’ll be alright.
Everything will be alright.
You’ll have fun.
Remind yourself how much you need this.
How long it’s been since you’ve forced yourself out of the comfort of your room.
How many calls you’ve ignored.
How many invitations you’ve declined.
Today will be better.

Walk in.
Avoid eye contact.
Keep your head up.
Left, right.
Left, right.
Don’t draw attention.
Sit.
Don’t fidget too much.
They’ll know.
They’ll smell your fear.

Stop telling yourself you look weird.
They aren’t laughing about you.
They’re staring because you’re different.
Maybe you shouldn’t have showed this much skin.
Maybe you should’ve worn different shoes.
But it’s too late now.
Why do you always do this to yourself?

You are here for your reasons.
They’re here for theirs.
Stop looking over.
There’s nothing to check on.
That woman shrieking with laughter isn’t laughing at you.
Why does than man keep glancing over though?
Steady your hands, they’re shaking.
Pray no one saw you miss your straw.
Try again.

More people are flooding through the door.
The music is getting so loud you feel it in your throat.
When did your clothes get this tight?
You need to pee but you hold it in.
Sit planted in your seat so no one will see your trembling legs.
Stay hungry because you’ve forgotten how to eat.
Try not to stare as you watch mouthfuls of food being effortlessly consumed.
How do people do this?
You’re only normal when you’re alone.

Give it 5 more minutes.
Then leave.
Your friends always understand.
Apologize profusely.
Laugh.
Promise to make it up to them (again.)
But don’t let them see the terror in your eyes.

Get up slowly.
Try not to run.
Ignore all the eyes without meeting any.
Finally make it to the safety of your car.
Wind the window down.
Dissolve in your seat.
Light a cigarette.
Exhale relief.
You are free.
You are free.

 

*

Relephant Read: 

Coping with Social Anxiety through Meditation 

 

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Author: Naomi Hon

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Holly Lay/Flickr

 

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anonymous Dec 2, 2015 6:23pm

Carl Jung — who knew what he was talking about — said, and I quote, " our destiny is the external manifestation of our internal subconscious conflicts," also translatable as "when we are disturbed it's because something is wrong with us." This is the result of an infinitely improbably infinite serious of unlikely — adverse– decisions. In Light on Life, BKS Iyengar describes the ripples at the bottom of a pond that are manifested on the surface, that result from recurrent, ahem, trauma. But the cause is not even closely proportioned to the treatment, that is yoga in its many forms, especially meditation. The 12-steps have a lot to offer; keep in mind that AA didn't invent them, they rediscovered something that was almost identical in the early 1500's. And the Gospel – I'm offering a breadth of concepts and sources for a reason — is an announcement that there is GOOD NEWS. What's the good news? That there is good news! Huh, what's the good news? YOU DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THAT WAY ANYMORE.
We have the spiritual toolkit to salvation through many routes, but being ordinary humans, most of us will choose — way past its usefulness — to hold on to the old way of thinking, and try to ego through it by repeating "I can fix this!" or "Poor me". Each time it gets more established. One MUST surrender to win. MUST. There is no cure on the road we're on. There is, however, finding a new path. Knock and it's answered, ask and it's answered, seek and it's found. BY FINDING SOMEONE WHO HAS ALREADY FOUND IT and asking for guidance and light. The recitation of the problem is part of the problem.

anonymous Dec 2, 2015 6:22pm

Carl Jung — who knew what he was talking about — said, and I quote, ” our destiny is the external manifestation of our internal subconscious conflicts,” also translatable as “when we are disturbed it’s because something is wrong with us.” This is the result of an infinitely improbably infinite serious of unlikely — adverse– decisions. In Light on Life, BKS Iyengar describes the ripples at the bottom of a pond that are manifested on the surface, that result from recurrent, ahem, trauma. But the cause is not even closely proportioned to the treatment, that is yoga in its many forms, especially meditation. The 12-steps have a lot to offer; keep in mind that AA didn’t invent them, they rediscovered something that was almost identical in the early 1500’s. And the Gospel – I’m offering a breadth of concepts and sources for a reason — is an announcement that there is GOOD NEWS. What’s the good news? That there is good news! Huh, what’s the good news? YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE THAT WAY ANYMORE.

We have the spiritual toolkit to salvation through many routes, but being ordinary humans, most of us will choose — way past its usefulness — to hold on to the old way of thinking, and try to ego through it by repeating “I can fix this!” or “Poor me”. Each time it gets more established. One MUST surrender to win. MUST. There is no cure on the road we’re on. There is, however, finding a new path. Knock and it’s answered, ask and it’s answered, seek and it’s found. BY FINDING SOMEONE WHO HAS ALREADY FOUND IT and asking for guidance and light.

anonymous Oct 1, 2015 8:03am

from a brother who feels you, thank you Naomi for sharing your gift <3

anonymous Oct 1, 2015 4:46am

Thank you xoxox

anonymous Sep 30, 2015 8:47pm

Very very very well put. Thank you for sharing this. Reminds me I am not alone in this.. .. .. ..

anonymous Jan 24, 2015 7:46am

Thank you for these powerful words. This encompasses exactly how I feel.

anonymous Dec 29, 2014 2:36am

Interesting poem. Thanks for sharing. Social anxiety disorder is a psychiatric disorder that makes people to fear about mingling with others, has a lifetime prevalence of 13.3%. 35% of SAD people trying to cope with social anxiety problem through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

anonymous Dec 20, 2014 3:52pm

Beautiful poem. Social anxiety can be more debilitating than most people think. Love this approach…

anonymous Dec 17, 2014 3:56pm

ADVICE for a young LADY

Look good
talk sweet
don't have too much to eat
don't think
just drink
dress as sexy as you can
be all that he wants
and more
wear less
look better than those girls
watch out for them
don't seem jealous
don't screw it all up now
act carefree
but care
just hold on as long as you can
ignore his faults
separate the good from the bad
and keep what you like to yourself.
Be better than you really are
in front of him
change whatever you need to fast
that's what it takes to make it last
let him test the water
before he takes a dip
don't question his answers
but do answer his questions
ambiguously
in order to sustain the mystery
or else what is there to know
?

anonymous Dec 16, 2014 4:57pm

LOVE THIS and love your bio 🙂 "Paper is where I get naked." ^_^

I wrote a poem with a similar cadence many moons ago… http://www.thestarlitecafe.com/poems/92/poem_7690

anonymous Dec 16, 2014 3:10pm

Hey Naomi, I liked your poem. It’s so detailed and provides a wonderful a glimpse into life of someone who has social anxiety. All these automatic negative thoughts that other people never have to deal with. And the excuses that you have to make so your friends don’t find out what’s really going on under the skin. Beautifully put!

anonymous Dec 16, 2014 11:32am

Beautifully written. Completely encompasses every thought in my mind when out in social situations. Thank you for writing this.

anonymous Dec 16, 2014 7:55am

I can relate to this reading completely. This is so me. I do not like crowds, shopping, loud noises. I do well to be able to leave my house to go to work. I dress in black most of the time just so people won’t notice or see me. I always thought it was “just me” living in this type of world but now I know that there are many others. Doesn’t make it any easier though and finding a life partner who understands is next to impossible so I have mostly resigned myself to the fact that I will be alone for the rest of my life. I thank God every day for my dog – he keeps me in this world.

anonymous Dec 15, 2014 10:02am

I still feel some of this but it gets better as you get older & get treatment. Daily life is your exposure therapy and its a good but tough teacher. Thank you for sharing this.

anonymous Dec 15, 2014 4:02am

No words…..how can I express how I feel about this……it’s exactly how I feel…..would like to speak / email w/you regarding using this in a book I am attempting to write. (with credit to you, of course). Hope to hear back from you. Thank you for sharing this.

Laura Carney Oct 12, 2016 10:55pm

Thank you for sharing this.... totally describes what I go through every time i leave my house. Drives my family and the friends I have left crazy they just don't get it .

Cynthia Hawkins Aug 16, 2016 4:40pm

Stay out of your head!irs,a dangerous place to be.

Cynthia Hawkins Aug 16, 2016 4:40pm

Stay out of your head!irs,a dangerous place to be.

Cynthia Hawkins Aug 16, 2016 4:39pm

If we could just stay out of our head!our mind is a dangerous place to stay.

Cynthia Hawkins Aug 16, 2016 4:37pm

We all share the same worries &fears!! IF WE COULD JUST STAY OUT OF OUR HEAD!!

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Naomi Hon

A 22-year-old empath born and bred in the bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I make up for my 5-foot tiny frame with a laugh you’ll hear 50 feet away. A horror nymph who’s sold her soul to Indie rock ‘n’ roll, I’ll forever be in awe of all the chaos and beauty of the world. Paper is where I get naked.