I have a confession. Well, two confessions really. 1) I live a boring life, and 2) I suffer from social anxiety. It isn’t severe. I’m able to function and power through things. I don’t let it control my life and as a result, I’m very good at hiding it. Every once in awhile it crops up and creates a problem.
I don’t know how to explain it to someone that hasn’t experienced it. It’s like your internal monologue is the enemy. It’s the feeling of desiring invisibility more than any other thing. Your mind asks constantly whether or not you’re blending in. It demands to know if other people are noticing you or judging you. It’s terrified of both.
I have a small ritual I use to psyche myself out enough to go to the grocery store. Grocery shopping is one of my most hated activities, but I have to do it — a lot. Food spoils fast so you can’t buy a whole lot in one go when you live alone.
Earlier this summer I had to buy a particularly embarrassing item. I required Athlete’s Foot spray. I figured I’d just pick it up when I went for groceries. As I stood in front of the pharmacy section, basket in hand, I was met with a dilemma. Athlete’s Foot spray is expensive, but the exact same product with “Jock Itch Cream — for sensitive areas” on the label is several dollars cheaper. Carrying around Athlete’s Foot spray is far less embarrassing than carrying spray for jock-itch, but was I really willing to pay more for slightly alleviated embarrassment?
NO! No, I was not. So I bought the “Jock Itch Cream — for sensitive areas.”
Then I noticed it. A rush of adrenaline as my anxiety met with my newfound boldness. It felt good. It was like whitewater rafting only far more pathetic. So I carried that cream, label revealed to all across the store.
I only worry that the rush will wear out, and I’ll have to start buying even more embarrassing items. One of these days I’m going to find myself in a store buying a ski-mask, duct-tape, and a hacksaw just to see if anyone stops me.