Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
-1 Peter 5:7
As the holiday season is well underway, many look forward to the exchanging of gifts and social gatherings that are associated with this time of year. It’s the time to fellowship in the company of those we love. While most look forward to the festivities during the holidays, this can also be a difficult time for someone like myself who struggles with the symptoms of social anxiety.
According to the Social Anxiety Institute, “If a person usually becomes (irrationally) anxious in social situations, but seems better when they are alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem (2017).” For someone extremely introverted like myself, my anxiety is on 100 right about now. Being around large crowds of people during the holidays makes me uncomfortable and I avoid it as much as possible.
I grew up very sheltered as a kid. I also moved a lot. So much so that I attended 13 schools and no, my parents weren’t in the military. Because of our constant moving, there was no time to make real friends. Just when I thought I formed a solid friendship with someone, my parents would notify me that it was time to move. By the time I was a senior and attending my fourth high school, I pretty much gave up on making friends and socializing altogether.
The comfort I felt in being alone traveled with me through adulthood and here I am today, still keeping to myself in my personal bubble. Sometimes, I have days where I just want to be alone and unbothered. I’ll watch my phone ring when friends and family call and purposely not leave the house. I’ve never really been comfortable in a large setting of people, especially people I don’t know. My ideal time of having fun is in the comfort of my own home with a good book and a cup of tea. I could spend time alone for hours and never grow tired of it.
Now that I have a family of my own, I’ve made it my mission to break out of my bubble one step at a time. I still get anxious when I’m asked to attend anything that involves people. The effort to prepare myself to put on my smile and leave the house can be extreme at times, but I push through. I know that the Lord delights in the fellowship of His people.“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”-Hebrews 13:16
I’ve learned that being alone is not safe. Social anxiety can be described as “the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression (What is Social Anxiety, 2017).” Your mind becomes a playground for idle thoughts like the onset of depression, suicide and even lust. Building new relationships and fellowshiping with those that are like-minded has yielded great things in my life and has kept me grounded.
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
I attended a Christmas party a few nights ago hosted by a few friends and I can truly say that the message and testimonies that were given were such a blessing. It wasn’t your average Christmas party. I almost didn’t’ attend for several reasons, but I’m glad that I did. I walked in the door late and nervous looking for a spot to post up and be unseen and left feeling so full in the spirit and loved. I’ve learned that it’s not so much the act of being among people, but it’s the type of people that I surround myself with that make the difference. Being around those that are not only like minded, but like spirited helped me to overcome my anxieties just for a moment. I may not be a social butterfly at this point, but this wall flower is slowly peeling away from her place alone.