Social Anxiety? New Experiences are Mandatory

Music has the weird potential to make you feel something extraordinary. It can make you feel any emotion in the strongest form. I’m a music fanatic, but my social anxiety always kept me from going to shows and concerts. It became increasingly difficult to do things that included others. I don’t feel like I’m in the minority when saying crowds make me uncomfortable. Going to shows/concerts was just something I wouldn’t do. Too many people and everyone on top of everyone -- I couldn’t handle it. The thing is, I love music and seeing a band live is an experience I wanted to go through in a positive way. 

My boyfriend loves music as well (who doesn’t?). His birthday was coming up and with Switchfoot with Relient K were headed to the Altria Theater in the middle of VCU's campus, I figured the stress level would be lower due to how nice the venue was. Plus, I was so close to home I could always leave if it was overwhelming. I thought I’d go all out and experience this together, and I knew he really wanted to go to a show. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about how awkward I tend to get in new situations. I wish it wasn’t the case, but the fact is I’m kind of different in terms of how I process social situations. I tend to hide it well, but sometimes the anxiety takes over and I’m this uncomfortable individual in the corner wondering when I can leave an event.

In this circumstance I was just really excited to do something my boyfriend likes to do because we usually do things that don’t include other people; the movies, out to dinner, etc. This is mostly due to my social anxiety, but it’s more of an unspoken thing between us. Anxiety has always prevented me from doing much of anything. It prevented me from experiencing the joy of new experiences. Being around a huge crowd of people was not my thing, so shows and concerts were entirely out of the realm of what I could handle. This was completely confined to social situations. I made the worst first impressions, I laughed at the weirdest times, I was "quirky". I truly didn’t want that to continue through to adulthood, so doing new things became a secret priority. 

I’ve never really listened to Switchfoot or Relient K and (much to my surprise) neither had my boyfriend. We went, and honestly no regrets. It wasn’t a crowded, uncomfortable situation, thankfully. Throughout the entire night I honestly didn’t think about running back to my apartment for an evening in my pajamas with my best friend, Netflix. It was an amazing show and I’m so thankful that I have a SO I can share new experiences with. Little did he know how monumental this was for me. I was actually having a good time; I didn't think about how I looked or acted. 

It was something I knew would get me out of my comfort zone, which is something I've been working on. Social anxiety is not something that I wanted controlling my life anymore. Pretty soon, I hope it becomes a thing of the past. I’m in no way down playing anxiety as something you can just snap out of. It’s real, and it's something that needs to be worked on little by little in order to become manageable. It gets easier.