Its that time of year, you have multiple invites to parties and your social anxiety is kicking in just thinking about it! Don’t panic yet, the Social Anxiety And Party Season Survival Guide is here to hold your hand!
I kid you not, the topic of social anxiety and party season is making my stomach go in knots. I can feel nausea rising, the hands have a slight tremor…can i go hide under my duvet please?? Chances are, if you’re reading this, I’m not on my own here. Sometime around September the word “Christmas” followed by “night out”, “lets do drinks”, “mum’s dinner”, “house party” and other assorted phrases start circulating. My Facebook event invites start pinging at me and my group chats start filling up. Plus my best friends all decided to have their birthdays in December! (o.k. this one isn’t their fault, I must be drawn to that star sign or something). Never mind the school Christmas fairs and concerts, that’s before you’ve got to the logistics of actual Christmas and gift buying, making sure you see everybody….WWAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! BREATHE…BREATHE…..
Now I’ve got that out of my system..calming deep breath…lets take this step by step with Party Season and Social Anxiety, A Survival Guide. I should have done this years ago and pinned it up honestly. Here we go!
Lets evaluate each event and make a decision to attend or not
There are no rules that say we have to go to any of these events..repeat once again…you DO NOT have to go to these events. There is a big difference between my best friend’s birthday dinner and a house party where the host has invited everybody on their friends list right? Here’s a good indicator for you: are you and the host close enough that if the situation was reversed you would notice their absence and be upset by it? Have you spoken to this person in the last two years? if not, will it be easy to have a conversation with them because you share a bond and understanding from your shared history? If you wouldn’t know what to say to them if you bumped into them on the street, then don’t put yourself through the agony of attending an event where you will have that same disconnected vibe.
Will you enjoy the event?
Before you answer, well duh, i wouldn’t be reading this if I enjoyed these events, hear me out! Don’t feel obliged to go to a karaoke night if you hate singing or listening to others, don’t go for dinner at a seafood restaurant if you can’t stand the smell of fish and if you don’t really drink then don’t go to a wine tasting. See what I’m getting at here? The sensible choices and how to cope best when hit by social anxiety and party season is to go to the events that you know hand on heart are enjoyable activities for you. For instance, I am all about a girl’s night in or a trip to a tapas bar but would I enjoy a team building paintball day? Not happening ever and I wont even entertain putting myself through it. Don’t be afraid to say no.
How to figure out what to wear
This one is a work in progress for me but I’m getting pretty fed up with realizing 2 hours before an event that I have nothing that I deem suitable or that i feel confident in. I also hate shopping and get serious guilt about spending money on myself (don’t worry, this blog post will be coming very soon!). However , I’ve decided that is is crucial that I have a go-to capsule wardrobe for going out. The anxiety wasted over just choosing an outfit is enough to dampen the whole thing before I’ve gone anywhere. This is my personal suggestion so feel free to figure out what works for you.
Crucial wardrobe items:
- smart flattering jeans
- a pair of black trousers
- a top that has some sparkle and feels like a going out top
- a pair of all occasion black heels that go with everything (teeny kitten heels for me, I’m a converse kind of girl haha)
- a pair of boots (not uggs or slippers ok?)
- a dress that is dressy enough for weddings, fancy restaurants
- a day dress or top and skirt for those in-between occasions
- a coat with shape that looks nicer than your usual winter puffer jacket or duffel coat
- SPARE TIGHTS! always keep a pair of new tights in your sock draw
Have these items good to go at all times and you have multiple outfits for every occasion. I really need to make myself go shopping..ugh..
Get all the details, every little detail
Make sure you have the times, date, address, dress code as essential. Then ask the questions you really want to know the answers to such as how many people are expected, is the time exact or a casual from 8pm, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan let somebody know or check the menu, likewise for any allergies because there’s nothing like drawing attention to yourself for a medical crisis! Are others planning on going onto somewhere else after? ( I love this one, when you think you know exactly what’s happening then bam! Someone throws a curve-ball). Another one is when everyone has agreed to pay by cash and I only have my debit card, that look down the table yikes! You could even establish if everyone is splitting the bill evenly or paying for their own.
With a house party, ask your host if they would like you to bring anything and if so, buy it ahead of time and not on the night, don’t put yourself through the angst of rushing. I think my point is knowledge is power, the more you know the less is unknown and the easier your mind will cope with it, promise.
The buddy system
Top of my list for social anxiety and party season is walking into an event on my own and having to seek out a familiar face, omg that feeling that everyone is watching you walk around on your own, intruder alert! We can survive this too I promise, we are going to implement” the buddy system”.
Connect with someone before the event, hopefully you have a few friends going, and ask one of them to either meet up with you and go together to the event or that you can text/call when you arrive so they can come outside to meet you and walk in together. Likewise you can agree who you’re leaving with later and how you’re getting home, you don’t have to be on your own at all if you plan accordingly. Going with your partner? Problem solved! Which brings me to….
Your other half’s events
You struggle bad enough when its an event within your own social circle, have a partner and chances are you will be invited to their events too! i have lost count of the amount of times I have done my heavy breathing labor-style in a car before going into a room where the only person I will know is him. What’s worse, he is going to talk to other people and quite possibly need the bathroom at some point so you will be stood on your own. We have just reached anxiety DEFCON FIVE! Readers of Party Season and Social Anxiety, A Survival Guide, we are not going to let this beat us. We are going to try honesty with our partner. We are going to state calmly and clearly what our anxieties are and then we are going to come to an agreement over coping strategies. This person loves you and wants you to have a wonderful time out with them so they will support you on this. (If you don’t have one of these then I suggest finding a new one?)
I’m very lucky to have someone who may look at me like I’m a freak when I’m doing this car breathing and not totally understand it, but does love me enough to be patient and understanding, will hold my hand if needed, always tells me if he’s going to the other side of the room and why, never makes me feel excluded from a conversation and checks if I need a drink, food, if I’m o.k. and would leave if it really was too much for me. No you can’t have him, i found him first and I won’t find anyone else who can put up with my array of quirks, he’s a keeper!
I’m adding this because money can play a big part in anxiety. There is nothing worse than feeling pressure to attend something when you simply can’t afford it. I’m telling you straight Survival Guide readers, if you are honest and say its not in your budget, you’re very sorry you can’t attend but would love to hear about the next time they’re doing something, you WILL be forgiven! We live in a time where just about everybody has been feeling the strain, everyone can relate, chances are they have been there too. They will not think any less of you. Give yourself permission to not be ashamed. You chose to pay bills or buy your kids Christmas presents instead of go out. I’d say that’s having your priorities straight. If they value you as much as you value them, they may even come up with a more budget friendly way for you to be included.
So lets review shall we? We are only going to the events that we will enjoy with genuine contacts that you like spending time with and are comfortable around. We have something to wear for every occasion, we have all the details down to the pricing on a glass of wine and exactly where we are going. We won’t be walking in alone because we have implemented the buddy system. If we have a partner they are incredibly supportive and understanding and know exactly what to say and do to help you. Finally we are only doing what we can comfortably afford which our friends completely understand as we have been upfront and honest.
Readers of Social Anxiety and Party Season, A Survival Guide, you are ready to face the season. In fact you are ready to face any event that comes along. deep breaths and go for it, I have faith in you. I’m working on the faith in me but I’ve followed my own advice and I’m going to some genuinely awesome nights with my lovely friends over the next few weeks…I’m actually looking forward to it….
If this has helped you or you have your own strategies, please leave me a comment or drop me a message below. I’d love to hear all your feedback on what works for you. Love and light to you all.