Eric and the Social Anxiety (or Eric and His Damaged Brain Part II or I)
Note: I am reposting this to fourwords.net on May 11, 2016 after some quick editing for grammar. The original posting was November 15, 2011 and can be found here if that interests you for any reason.
You’re walking towards a door. You reach the door, extend your hand, grab the handle, and open it. You stop to look around to see if anyone else is coming. You see someone walking in your direction. It’s time for that split second calculation to determine whether or not they are close enough for you to have to hold open the door or if it would be socially acceptable for you to walk in and forget about it. You decide they’re too close, and you hold the door for them. They’re still coming, this is taking forever, maybe you’ve miscalculated their distance, now you look like an idiot holding the door for someone who was probably a block away. They reach you and walk right passed. They weren’t even going in, and now you feel completely retarded. You look around again, “did anyone else see that?” “Shake it off” you tell yourself, “just walk in and forget that ever happened, nobody cares but you”, but you never believe yourself. If this has never happened to you, and you can’t relate in any way then go back and replace all the “you” and “you’ve”s with “I” and “I’ve”s. This is just an example from the craziness in my brain that happens more often than I care to admit. I’ve got thousands more.
I’ve touched on my social anxiety before, but I figure it’s time to dive right into that scary place in my brain. Maybe try to figure out what the hell is wrong with me, or at least explain the weird hell that is my life. I will often find myself standing and watching as other people are working. “I should help these people. Why am I just standing here being worthless?” I ask myself. I’ll try to determine the best way to help, and I’ll grab something or try to move out of the way, but it’s usually the wrong thing to grab or the wrong way to move. These are basic things that most men are born with, but for some reason I can’t function as part of a team. My solution is usually to withdraw, and just try to be quiet, or stand in the corner until it’s time for me to do something, or I’ll just leave.
I’m extremely awkward around people I don’t know, people I haven’t seen in a while, people who check out at the grocery store (or any store for that matter), people I do know but I’m scared of because I can’t really tell where they are coming from, people I work with, people I go to church with, etc. (this would have been shorter if I had just said “people.”). I use humor to highlight things that make me uncomfortable, it often comes off as insensitive and generally offends at least half of the people involved. I don’t have any idea how to do small talk (I hate sports, wrestling, nascar [notice how I didn’t call nascar a sport?], the weather, etc…)
My coping method for awkwardness is self-deprecating humor. I will usually say the funniest thing that pops into my head no matter how it will affect my social standing because if I can get someone to laugh it will hopefully diffuse the tension. I usually just end up looking like an ass (note: it’s not a good idea to joke around with your bosses about how lazy you are, even if it is the most hilarious thing you’ve ever said).
This weirdness is something that I’ve lived with as long as I can remember, and even though I am more able to push it deep down inside than I used to be it’s still very much part of me. Anyone who knows me will probably tell you that I’m not fooling anyone with this “normal” act.
P.S. “He was such an understanding child, he always listened when you explained to him in a rational logical way what you were doing and why you were doing it even though he couldn’t possibly understand any of the words you were saying as he was only 4 months old” is not something that we will ever say about our son. I love you Charlotte, even if you do sound like a crazy person.