It's the most 'socially anxious' time of year...Ding Dong...
'Ping' goes What's App. Your Facebook notification page is filling up with event invites left, right and center. There is the talk of sequin dresses and party eyelashes in the playground. It can only mean one thing...
Christmas party season is upon us.
For the socially anxious of us, this time of year is a minefield. Over-thinking, over-analysis and social paralysis will be going off all over the place.
Oh, I talk a good talk but throw me into a party room and I am a fish out of water.
Firstly, because I am a crap drinker. Too much of an emotional lubricant for me to be any good at it. Two is my limit at any event. Any more and you will find me weeping in the corner over a ladder in my tights or chasing my poor suffering husband to pick a fight over why he can never remember bin night....blah blah blah....which is pretty much all my husband hears.
However, being the sober one in the room at a Christmas party doesn't do much to make you feel less awkward.
In fact, it means you are still stifling polite when ruddy-cheeked Martin from accounts makes his way over to you, brandishing a forlorn looking sprig of mistletoe. 'Um no thank you, Martin...'. However were you more emotionally lubricated, you could probably find two far more effective words to use on Martin.
Having your inhibitions still firmly in place, thanks to sobriety, you also often find yourself stuck in the corner counseling poor Marie, who has recently had her heartbroken, whilst everyone else is doing the Conga. Worse still, talking to Fred, who doesn't have anyone to talk to and that makes your heart hurt. So you stay talking to Fred, although it is readily apparent that Fred is yet to discover the joys of a shower and this might be why he was on his own in the corner.
At these events, I find myself generally getting quieter and quieter...willing the babysitter to call with a non-emergency that would allow me to legitimately sneak off and back to the comfort of my dressing gown and bed.
In my teenage years, I always felt awkward and gawky at parties. I tried. I downed shots and whoop whooped with the rest of them but there was always this older than her year's voice in my head mocking me...'Looking a bit of a tit here Rose.'
Let's not forget the middle of the night post party anxiety either. The what did I say to whom? Did they think I was tedious? Did I really say that? Should never have said that! Negative self-talk that has you waking up in a cold sweat and spending the next day with your head in a biscuit barrel. I am very good at that too.
So what can the socially anxious of us do to deal with these worries and woes. How can we better cope? Well I know what I will be doing.
I will be politely declining.
I have spent decades putting myself through social situations that I just don't enjoy. Why? Because I wanted to fit in, to be liked, to not be 'anti-social'.
I have learnt though, that saying 'no thank you' to the invites that make you feel uncomfortable, ISN'T being anti social. It is being kind, to yourself.
Don't get me wrong, I won't be hiding behind four walls all Christmas. There are plenty of seasonal events I will love attending.
My idea of a Christmas party is meeting friends on a wintery afternoon. Enjoying a glass of wine and making a Christmas wreath....that people, is my idea of fun.
It may not be yours but that's OK too. Let's not get all judgy here. Everyone likes a different flavoured slice of the party pie.
Luckily I have people in my life who also like the quieter slice of pie and I am off Christmas wreath-making next weekend.
Better get my party jumper on.