I didn’t go into much detail, but last week I hung out with a “friend.” A same sex, strictly platonic friend. This may seem mundane, but for the sociophobe it’s an earth shattering event. And for me, something that happens about as often as a lunar eclipse. We went shopping, ate dinner, drank wine. It was nice. We had fun. I had fun. I was able to put my anxiety away for a night and actually enjoy myself without obsessing on the who, what, when and how’s of the situation. But, I thought this little outing was a one time thing, a sort of personal achievement that I could put under my belt and look back on every once in awhile. A reminder, if you will, that social situations really aren’t that bad, and yes, I can handle them.
Boy, was I was wrong.
Now, my “friend” wants to hang out everyday. This is not inherently bad, but it poses a few problems. First, it messes with my routine. I have a very strict schedule and any deviation, aside from restaurant adjustment, is very stressful. Even the prospect of a change in plans can be detrimental. Up until recently, I would cry if someone unexpectedly invited me to drinks, (not in front of them, of course).
Second, because we work together, hanging out forces my “work face” to meet my “home face.” I’ll delve into this topic more deeply later, but I’m not exactly comfortable with the clash. I worry about how I should act versus how I am acting and how I’m expected to act. A conflict I would prefer to avoid altogether.
I’m also a very secretive person. I’ve been at the same firm for three years and my co-workers know virtually nothing about me. My “friend” is the only person in the office who knows I have a brother, and she doesn’t even know he has cancer. Somewhere along the line, I came to the conclusion that avoiding self-disclosure would save me from rejection, because if you don’t know me, you can’t not like me. There’s no escaping self-disclosure when hanging out, which in turn means potential rejection.
All in all, I know that leaving my comfort zone is the only way to conquer my fears. But doing it is so damn uncomfortable!