I love the holidays. I love the vibe, the essence, the charm, the whole shebang! It’s something that I am quite fond of. I mean you can’t just beat that time when it always seems like there is just some magic in the air. While I love the holidays, the holidays don’t love me back. I mean I love the concept of holidays, what they stand for, and most of the traditions….but being around people has never been my cup of tea. In the beginning, I was a quiet kid who as my family said, ‘Didn’t speak unless it was important’ and as I grew up I found myself becoming the opposite and way more extroverted –Thanks to a certain best friend I made in my fifth-grade year– and while I became more extroverted I found myself still dreading family gatherings. It seemed when I had large familial gatherings I would clam up, shut down, and revert back to the little quiet kid who would rather be off on her own. The issue wasn’t that I wanted to be alone during these special moments but I found it easier to deal with. For example, my best Thanksgiving was in eighth grade, my mother had told me she was going to my sister’s father’s home for Thanksgiving and I was welcome to join but didn’t have to this year since everything wasn’t fully planned. I told her I didn’t want to go and would rather spend Thanksgiving with my grandma. That Thanksgiving we each ate a bowl of cereal, had some cookies, and just watched some movies on Netflix. We didn’t talk too much but when we did, it was nothing horrible or anything that made me anxious. I wasn’t pressured to be around anyone and think of my future but rather I could just joke about terrible acting and just be myself. It was the best Thanksgiving I ever had. I was with one of my favorite people, doing things I liked. There was no hysteria, no rushing to get food, no struggling to find a seat, it was just a nonchalant normal day. That memory will forever be ingrained in me because while I didn’t go all and about and have a traditional Thanksgiving, it still felt like Thanksgiving. It still held the magic. I still liked being around other people but I just don’t want to deal with the uncomfortableness and me having to put on a mask. Going to my room and hiding was easier than awkwardly standing around, making small talk, and answering the same questions over and over.
Another element that bothered me with socializing during Thanksgiving was I also hated the competition that came hand in hand with conversing at Thanksgiving. It’s not on purpose of course but as we update on our lives, we try to make it seem better than it is. Whether this is to provide comfort for the other not to worry or for personal satisfaction, it varies. With this competition comes judgment. Genuinely, It seems during this small talk on Thanksgiving, I feel as if I am being observed with a big magnifying glass, waiting to catch me slip up or comment on my life choices. I know they don’t mean to do it and I am not sure if that’s just me freaking out over something that isn’t that big of a deal….but it’s scary. It’s nerve-racking. You feel as if you are being watched from every angle, someone waiting to say something, and then you feel….embarrassed, embarrassed that someone noticed a flaw of yours and then say something that everyone can hear about it. While you can argue that they don’t mean it or it wasn’t meant to be taken like that, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Comments like —Oh Brooklyn hiding away in her room like always, Does she ever leave her room?, Is she still doing Geoscience?, She’s never going to make money, You still don’t have your license?— and so on can mean a lot. It feels as if my life choices are being undermined and picked apart with a few simple words. The thing is; why do I care? The answer because the opinion of people you know and care about usually weighs more than strangers. These are people you will see more than once, people you can’t run away from. This is the point where someone would say I am being overdramatic or whining or sensitive but, at this point? I don’t care about doing the most. My feelings are valid and I don’t know why I wrote this honestly. I see all these articles talking about the joys of Thanksgiving and it is a fun holiday but it’s not all rainbows and cupcakes. To be honest, writing this article has been therapeutic. I used to think these feelings were wrong, that I was weird, that something was wrong with me, but now I see there isn’t.
So to all my socially anxious individuals nervous about Thanksgiving, it is okay to feel like that but just know that you are not alone with feeling like that! Good luck to you all and just know, you will hang in there!