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 

 

Bonus:

 

 

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Author: Naomi Hon

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Holly Lay/Flickr

 

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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.

Comments

15 Responses to “A Brutally Raw Insight into Social Anxiety. {Poem}”

  1. Constance says:

    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.

  2. Christine says:

    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.

  3. Ruth says:

    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.

  4. Melissa says:

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

  5. Andre Sossi says:

    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!

  6. Sabrina Bird says:

    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

  7. Sabrina Bird says:

    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
    ?

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

  9. 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.

  10. Heather says:

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

  11. sally b. says:

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

  12. Indi says:

    Thank you xoxox

  13. Joe says:

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

  14. laportama says:

    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.

  15. laportama says:

    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.

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