Learning new skills can help us feel more in control of our anxiety, but doing so is not always easy and takes motivation and energy.
That’s why we asked a couple of our community members who are further along in their recovery journey to share some hope and motivation for all of us here.
Today’s story comes from a member who is a 28-year old woman and asked to stay anonymous.
My message for you:
Enjoy what you like about the holiday. Don't think about the things you dislike or whatever stress waiting for you after the holiday.
A tip I'd like to share:
The following is a summary of what goes through my brain whenever I think about any social involving more than three people.
You and I are anxious about interacting with people in different settings during the holiday. Let's start by not not assuming that we are the only ones uncomfortable in those settings.
Let's make the goal of the holidays to, in general, 'Doing what we enjoy and making the effort to connect with others'.
Let's then assume that we do not stand out, that we are average people in those settings. This might not be easy, but let's keep the thought, because that's what drives our actions.
What about conversations? Let's brainstorm some ideas, beforehand, for neutral topics that would not provoke personal conflict, or we can talk about current world events (world cup?).
Most importantly, do not take anything personally, people have come to the holiday from whatever stress they had and may still be easing in and out of it. 'But it was clearly personal!'
But you can choose to not take it personally.
A story I'd like to share:
I have recently been to some gatherings before the holiday since some people are already leaving for holidays. This group of people are friends of my friend, but I was not close enough to be comfortable around them.
Social 1: My friend suggests I come to this social. My presence is a little strange maybe because I do not speak a lot. I worry about whether any of them is uncomfortable because I am there when it is usually just them. I do not think I have much in common with others. But I went and actually spoke beyond greetings! I talked about laptops when a girl mentioned she was looking to buy one for a good price, and I showed her a reliable website and told her how to choose.
Social 2: My friend tells me that her friend told her to ask me to come. During that, the laptop girl shows me the laptop she is going to buy and I tell her it seems that she has a good deal! I am involved in conversations a bit more that day.
Social 3: Laptop girl sends me a message telling me to come along. I do go, and she's shows me the laptop she bought for a good price. Me and my friend stay for longer than usual that day.
This may seem like I'm telling a story about a purchase, but it is about the slow progress in the way I was invited and also in level of interactions.
In those socials and through the way some of them spoke to me, I realised that they too had some assumptions about me because I am quiet.
Perhaps my presence was a bit strange at first because I do not show up to socials of the sort. What I realise now is that even if I don't see myself fitting in, I certainly do have more things in common.
Some consistency in showing up to those socials would make it smoother, but it is not as daunting after making a small connection. Some people are easier to connect to than others (the girl who trusted me with her purchase as an example).
Once again, this might not seem like much, but it counts as progress to me. I also need some perseverance to keep trying until I am comfortable.
If you enjoyed this story, would you consider sharing your own words of encouragement or support for other members?
You can do so here and you can choose to stay anonymous: https://my-aya.typeform.com/to/qtrLkNgY