This phrase used to DRIVE ME CRAZY and in certain contexts it still does, because no shit. If you struggle with mental illness it is literally all in your head, but when people respond to your struggle with this statement it can feel so minimizing and condescending. This weekend I reclaimed this phrase.
I had an opportunity to challenge my social anxiety this weekend. It’s something that has kept me from networking and engaging with new people for a long time, but this year I decided I can’t allow it to hold me back anymore. If I’m going to make my dreams a reality I’ve got to learn to live with social anxiety and show up anyways.
A connection I built this year invited me to an event she was hosting that was called a “Champagne Date.” The group of women she has put me in touch with has been so inspiring, motivating, and rewarding so I thought this would be a good place to challenge my social anxiety and build connections with people who are in line with my values and goals.
As someone who recently quit drinking I was hesitant about the champagne, but I figured I’ll have to confront social situations involving alcohol eventually so why wait? I was confident I’d know a few people there and if I wasn’t feeling like a social butterfly I could hang by them.
It worked! I drank my sparkling grape juice and hovered by the people I did know, but I was still able to make new connections with a bunch of people too. At one point I confessed my social anxiety about the evening to one of the women that spoke the same night I did at ABOUT WOMEN. She said my nervousness about the situation didn’t show and gave me kudos for showing up. It felt good!
Of course, something had to go awry. I went to hug the hostess goodbye when I made my exit and somehow I managed to knock her drink to the floor in the process. I died in that instant. I froze. I felt the panic bubbling up. Instead of letting this familiar narrative I tell myself play out (you are worthless, you can’t do anything right, shame on shame on shame), I took control. I calmly leaned down and started gathering the tiny pomegranate pieces before anyone could step on them and create an even larger mess.
The hostess wasn’t a bit bothered by it, in fact those standing around jokingly exclaimed, “Now it’s a real party!” She pulled me in for a proper hug goodbye and I was on my way. For once my world didn’t crumble when I made a stupid mistake and I was finally able to say to myself, “It’s all in my head!” as a triumphant realization instead of an insult.
I hope you similarly have a chance to challenge/change a negative narrative you’ve become all too familiar with as well. 🙂