Party Anxiety

As uncool as it is to admit, most of us probably don’t go to half as many social outings as we’d have people believe. There are a lot of reasons to be unfaithful to your ‘Going’ RSVP that you clicked two months ago. A regrettable hookup will be at the party, you have no clean underwear, the next season of X show is on Netflix and you worked overtime all week. These are one-time reasons not to go to a party. It’s when you begin to recycle your one-time excuses at times when you actually want to go out that a problem comes in. That paralyzing mental block you have about going? A lot of people get it (and I mean a lot) but anxiety and/or shyness shouldn’t inhibit us from having the life experiences we want to have.

As someone who has spent a lot of time not going out when they really wanted to, only to sit in their apartment pondering how quickly their life is going by, I have a lot of experience in this department. Recently, I’ve developed some tactics to help me overcome my anxieties about parties. Well, at least, overcome them just enough to get myself to the event and stick around a while. If you’re at all like me, it takes a while to re-write the Friday evening narrative, but it’s possible and never too late to try. The following are some tips that have helped me out, and you better believe I’m going to be using them this holiday party season.

What I Do When I (Actually) Want To Go to That Party:

1. Throughout the week tell yourself you’re going to the party.

Think about it while you’re shampooing in the shower, put a Post-it Note on your fridge, and inject it into conversation whenever you can. Make it a fact that you’re going.

2. Fib a little.

When you RSVP to a party say that you might have to leave early because it’s a friend’s birthday and you need to show your face at theirs or something along those lines. This way, if you aren’t enjoying yourself, you can make a clean exit that doesn’t look like you’re just ditching. This will take loads of pressure off, because you’ll know you’re in control. Feeling trapped at a party never leads to a fun time, instead it just makes the party an incubator for your anxiety. Have an exit strategy.

3. Dress confidently.

Whatever that means for you! Whether it means an itchy skirt that makes you feel provocative or it’s sweatpants and shoes that are questionably slippers. If you’re going to an ugly sweater party, and you’re getting anxiety from just the idea of decoding what a “low-key but still participating” ugly holiday sweater is, just don’t wear one and own your decision.

4. A little make-believe never hurt.

Pretend that you’re on a secret mission and if you don’t make it to that party then the CIA won’t get the info they need to solve the case in time. Yes, it sounds corny, but half the battle is getting into “that room”, so make up a fictional scenario in your head that gets you out the door of your house and through the door of that party.

5. Start at a corner.

It can be a daunting task to take on the whole party at once, regardless of the size. Just try tackling that one corner first. When you start to feel more comfortable you can branch out. Even if it’s a tiny party in someone’s one bed apartment, it works. Start with a corner.

6. Pace yourself.

Having a drink can take the edge off and help you to relax but don’t let it be your crutch, the possibility of next morning drinker’s remorse could make it harder to go out next time. To curb the nervous habit of putting the cup up to your lips 24/7 instead offer to grab a friend a drink if their cup is empty.

7. Prepare for the worst.

Sometimes party anxiety stems from the fact that you just know someone is going to bring up that one thing that you absolutely do not want to discuss. You know, someone might ask something like “how are things with so-and-so?” or “what are you working on these days?” Even if it’s been a shit year, it doesn’t have to be a shit night. Everything could turn around with just one awkward encounter and one shared business card. Be prepared for the tough questions. Go over in your head what you’re going to say if the occasion arises.

8. Come clean and/or remember you’re not the only person who feels like this.

You might want to gage this one, but sometimes just coming out about your social anxiety can help to tackle the feeling of isolation that so often accompanies it. You’d be surprised how many people experience feelings similar to yours. Anxiety operates on a spectrum. Don’t judge the existence of the suave talker’s anxiety on his ability to hold a conversation.

9. Reflect.

The morning after the party, think to yourself – did I have a good time? If not, was it the company, the setting, the bad weed? Evaluate why you did or did not have a good time. If you observe certain patterns emerging then you can begin to alter your decisions to fit the social situations that you enjoy. Maybe you’ll realise that you just don’t like big parties or maybe you’ll realise that it’s a certain crowd that you just don’t feel comfortable with.

If you do realise that parties just aren’t your thing then stop going! This is not the end of your social life. If you have way more fun catching up on your favourite Netflix show, making dinner with close friends, or making love to yourself, then do that. Life is way too short to not do what you want with the limited free time you have. It’s about getting the balance right between pushing yourself to make the most out of your opportunities but also recognising what it is that makes you happy.

Follow Brooke on Twitter: @BrookeSegarra