“This is where I went to the party (and didn’t panic)
On the back of a ‘Speed Limit 25′ sign in front of the ‘Stache House in Del Cerro, San Diego, California
I don’t do well in party situations. A crippling social anxiety disorder often makes them difficult for me to attend. The last party I’d been to didn’t go well. If you haven’t read it, I detailed the story here.
This time, it was the fourth of July. My girlfriend was invited to a backyard grill-out party by some of her friends. I came along as a guest. I was anxious about going, because I know how I typically react to crowded situations. In fact, before we even left, I broke down in a panic attack.
I took enough time to soothe my nerves, and then we left for the party. Upon arriving, there were a few familiar faces, but most of the people I had never met before. Still on edge, I sat down quietly and didn’t talk much to anybody.
As the party progressed, and more people I knew started showing up, a small group of us found a place to hang out towards the back of the yard. Finding a place to distance myself from the crowd, plus the company of close friends, plus an alcoholic beverage or two really helped me stave off the crash that I felt was inevitable at the beginning of the evening.
By the end of the night, I felt comfortable mingling amongst the crowd and conversing with complete strangers. I imagine most people take this sort of feeling of inclusiveness for granted. In fact, I’m pretty certain nearly everybody at that party did. But for me, this was a rarely attained achievement, along the lines of acing a test or nailing a job interview. I left that party proud of myself for my seeming social competency.