It sounds weird to some people but there are people that are so socially awkward or anxious that they just don’t join in with group activities. They might seem perfectly normal in their job or some of their day to day lives, especially if you aren’t extremely close to them but the thought of a work night out terrifies the life out of them.
Whilst they might come across as anti-social a lot of them are absolutely dying to go out and socialize, have a “normal” life and just be like everyone else.
I was one of those people, I haven’t perfected the art of it yet, as you can tell because I keep talking about it I am getting more and more used to going out. Here is how I’ve helped myself…
5. Find one person that you trust
I don’t mean find yourself a babysitter before we go on, hear me out.
It comes in two parts.
First off having one person that you are going out with that you feel comfortable around. It isn’t super important because of part two but if there is someone that you don’t mind if it gets too much for you just turning to and be like “hey can you just walk me to the door because its getting too much and I need to go” you’ll feel a lot safer. They don’t even have to know it, I mean most people will trust the entire group they are going out with and will turn to whoever is closest when they need something BUT its good for someone with anxiety just to remember at the back of their head that they have that one person they can trust.
Why it isn’t super important is part number two, find a friend who doesn’t mind being on the other end of the phone during the evening just to keep you calm.
I honestly have one of the best friends I could ask for and even though on Saturday he was out in one club and I was in another was SnapChatting me the whole evening to keep me calm and collected.
Just knowing you have someone who will text back if things get too much and you need a bit of support is important. I lost everyone on Saturday night, the one person I did find then ran off and I didn’t want to follow him like a loser so ended up leaving BUT because of the person on the other end of my phone I was able to get home happily and safely.
4. If you feel forced DON’T go out/do whatever it is
I do love going out but sometimes I’m just not feeling it and if I gave into someone telling me I HAVE to go it would ruin the memories of times that I actually WANTED to go and have a good time.
It’s one of those mind things.
If someone is forcing you to go out and you have a bad time you don’t remember that there was a reason you didn’t want to in the first place you just remember you went out and it was horrible. It is perfectly fine to say no to some nights out if you just aren’t up to them even if you feel bad for missing them afterwards. You’re mental health AT THAT VERY MOMENT is more important and not creating bad memories is even more important.
Again its the same with the things you do on the night out.
If everyone is dancing and you don’t feel comfortable DON’T. I mean you can stand on the dance floor with the group and just sway or something. You want to remember the night as something you enjoyed not something that made you feel really out of place. Thing is you get used to it and end up opening up during the night more then you think you will but you won’t if you feel forced into doing something before you are ready.
Just take things slow and go at your own pace.
3. Don’t drink too much!
No one will think you are a killjoy if you don’t drink.
I can drink hell of a lot, the only thing I have problems drinking is whiskey. On a night out though I don’t drink a whole bunch, I won’t drink as soon as I get there because I want to let my nerves calm down first, I won’t drink if I get too crowded because I know it just won’t help my nerves…
Basically drink when you feel comfortable.
Its especially important when you are feeling your way into socializing. I never used to drink period whilst going out but now I’ll have a few during the night. At some point I might drink so much that I end up getting blind drunk or something but if I don’t do these things it isn’t going to ruin my night.
You can have fun out and not be drunk even when others are drinking and getting drunk. Alcohol doesn’t always help with anxiety so making sure that you don’t drink just for the sake of it is important.
2. Push your boundaries but little by little
It sounds like a long list of don’t do this or don’t do that but that isn’t really what it is.
Don’t go out and do something just because someone told you too. Don’t drink too much if it plays up with your anxiety. Don’t do anything that will make you uncomfortable.
It’ll come to you naturally.
I don’t usually interact much with people, I don’t dance or go bowling or anything like that and the first time I did these things with other people I shied away and stood at the back doing nothing. When we went bowling last month I got right in the thick of it, I even ended up playing pool for a little bit, it took me a good few tries with the same group to get to that degree of comfort though. I don’t dance but now I’ll get straight to the dance floor and slowly get more energetic during the night. Hell by the time on Saturday we got to Fever I was singing along to songs and doing the YMCA, something I wouldn’t have been doing earlier in the night and which was unheard of the very first time I went out with this group and we ended up in Revs and I just stood at a table all evening.
You do have to push yourself but do it little by little. One thing at a time and only what your comfortable doing.
1. Practice makes perfect…
You’ll hate me for saying this but it really does.
My problem now isn’t really that I am anxious about going out, shockingly it is all to do with my stupid crush and being around him and wanting so badly to interact with him. I’m getting better at just about everything because I’m doing it more often.
I can now happily order things at bars because I got into Union Rooms without being ID’d and ordered a round, the next time I was in there I brought the alcohol for me and my friend all evening and now I’m not even anxious about not getting into clubs or anything.
I’ve been out this year more so far then I think I have in the last 3 years combined and every time it’s getting easier. Ordering taxi’s, going to the bar, walking into places, dancing with my friends and just enjoying myself… They don’t seem like a chore anymore like they used to. I feel safe and secure to just be me whereas beforehand I used to freeze.
That’s because I did all of the above and KEEP DOING IT!
It never probably will get easy for us or even easier but it will become something of a routine, like going to work or going to the shops. It becomes less daunting and you make memories and want to go out and make more. I got photos when I went to Revs with the group I was with and its made me want to get more group photos, I’ve never been in that culture and never realised how fun it is seeing that kind of thing. I got one on the weekend but haven’t seen it published and got sad when the others were getting a photo done and I was too far away to jump in the middle of it.
Thing is it is hard.
It doesn’t get easier and this isn’t a list that is foolproof in anyway. I just hope that if someone else is trying as I have in the past and comes across this knowing that you do find ways just to cope and end up enjoying yourself then it might inspire them to take the first step and go out.
I make mistakes on the nights out, I’m a emotional wreck the best of times and they do become mainly a thing about him BUT I also have a great time. I like the group I go out with, I feel included and normal for once in my life. We have a laugh, we dance and drink and you feel genuinely closer to them.
I don’t think its something you can win though. If it doesn’t come naturally to you it never will but doing it when you can makes you realise why those who it comes naturally too love it so much. Its nice to be just able to go out and have fun without worrying.