Tag Archives: social anxiety

Pushing Back the Boundaries

Lately, it’s been important for me to push my boundaries more and more; specifically with regard to things that give me the jibblies. I’m not talking about scary movies and horror comics; I’m talking about social anxieties and the fact that I would cheerfully be a shut-in if I let myself.

A long time ago, I learned that anxieties are insidiously hard to deal with. When you back away from the things that frighten you, it becomes easier and easier to back away every time you face something that scares you. You’re giving the fear positive reinforcement. Clearly, if you have a fear of being shot by muggers or eaten by savage bears, you should probably continue to indulge in that particular fear. But when it comes to irrational fears, phobias and anxieties, it is incredibly important to make a stand against that fear.

And then, even beyond that, you need to throw yourself headlong and do things you would otherwise not do, to push the limits and extend the boundaries. You cannot, I cannot continue to let myself be hemmed in by irrational and borderline ludicrous anxieties.

It’s become a constant thing, a tiring thing and also a fun thing, because it turns out sometimes you try something and you actually enjoy it and have fun and then, maybe, you can do it again.

And sometimes it’s terrible and awful and you want to crawl in a hole and never come out, but, guess what, now you know you can take it and move on. You take a couple of hits and you keep on trucking and that’s an important lesson too.

I try, sometimes not as much as I should, to improve myself in some small way. Sometimes a very small way, but it’s the trying that’s important.

And the occasional success.



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31 Days of Spoooktacular: Do You Fear What I Fear?

If I were to catalog the myriad fears and superstitions that bind me, we would be here the rest of the night and you would be feeling increasingly sorry for me. They range from the mild, but compelling (numbers, silver, threes) to the more provoking, but manageable (don’t touch, please don’t touch, and now there’s germs) to the almost paralyzing (Emily’s late and almost certainly dead, that food is too old, this person is angry and I have to make them UN-angry). And, if you didn’t know it, three is good. Three threes are better and three three threes are the best, hence 27 is the best  number.

They’re binding because they prevent. It’s not like being scared of a movie. That just prevents you from watching the rest of the movie. And, with most horror movies, you’re probably better off not watching the whole thing anyway.

But a lot of those fears hamper things like a job or a relationship, or they do when they start to get out of control. It’s taken years of throwing myself repeatedly into situations I do not like, a dislike from the depth of me, before I could actually function and even, on occasion, thrive in those same situations.

Working retail in an urban environment, for example, has set off pretty much everyone of my major anxieties at some point. I get touched by dirty angry people and all I really want to do is run into the nearest bathroom and wash my hands for ten minutes. But I have to stay there. Not because I’m trying to be brave, but because this is my job and I’m getting paid to do it, so I don’t have an alternative.

The only way I know to deal with being scared of something is to hunch into a little ball and march forward and hope that my instinctual desire to run is, for once, not the correct impulse. Dealing with it, moving forward, always forward, is the only way to keep from getting stuck, from being bound by a thousand intertwining threads, a spider’s web of nervous anxiety that only builds up if I stay still.

366 is a good number of words.


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Confronting Confrontation Confrontationally

I’ve never been a very confrontational person. I prefer sulking and passive-aggressive snarking to out and out telling someone off. Any attempt to “get up in someone’s grill” usually leads to a mild sputtering and a red face on my part. Even just thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

It took me a long time before I was comfortable with talking to strangers on the phone or making small talk with strangers on the bus. Confrontation is ten steps above that and makes me break out into a rash.

But lately, I’ve been able to actually deal with issues that require slightly more backbone. For example, after repeatedly being woken up by our upstairs neighbor’s partying, I marched upstairs at 3am and snippily told them that they were making it hard for me to sleep and marched back downstairs. And they stopped making noise! After I said something! That still astonishes me.

And it doesn’t sound like much, but I consider it a major skirmish and one that I won no less!

And the other day, Emily and I were cornered by a scam artist who I’ve seen downtown before peddling different sob stories. Instead of doing my usual, “Oh…no…sorry….no…change” mumbling as I walked away, I called her out and we walked away.

A year or so ago, I never would have done that. I’m finally starting to stand up to situations that I otherwise would have crept away from or ignored hoping they would go away.

I think, in some small ways, I’m turning into a grown-up. Maybe.

Dylan Charles

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