I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I work for an amazing company with an amazing bunch of people and last night was proof of this.
Like a lot of workplaces, we have a social club, but I like to think that ours is a little better than most. In the almost four years that I’ve had the job we’ve done some amazing activities, including white water rafting, clay bird shooting, jet boating and also my first fishing trip, pictured below. The activities are suggested by the staff and sometimes we vote to choose what happens next outing. They’re also reasonably regular, but not too often which is perfect.
I love the activities. It’s usually a little out of my comfort zone, like the white water rafting, but it’s a chance for me to socialize with my workmates without having to freak out too much about small talk, because we’re all occupied. It’s almost like being at work, but with different tasks for the day. And of course a lot of fun.
About a month ago the next event was scheduled. A Midwinters Christmas Party, which is something we hadn’t done before. A conference room at a bar was hired, along with a DJ and drinks and nibbles would be provided. People were very keen and back in my drinking days, I would have been too.
I used to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. I was absolutely fine in small groups (2-3 people) whilst sober, but as soon as the numbers got too high, I couldn’t do it. The really odd thing was, even if it was still only a small group, if we were at a bar or somewhere loud, I had the same social phobia issues. I think maybe because it’s harder to hear.
Alcohol gave me confidence. I wasn’t an alcoholic, I didn’t crave alcohol on a daily or even weekly basis, I just couldn’t socialize without it. I’m not even sure how it got to that point. I wasn’t overly social growing up but it seemed to change when I discovered drinking. I never made the connection until recent years tho.
I thought a lot about attending the party and a few days beforehand decided that I needed to. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone otherwise it will always be this way. This year has been about no longer taking the easy way out so social situations should be no different. So I said I’d go. Due to my elimination diet and junk free June, there was obviously no drinking or nibbling for me, so it really was the perfect opportunity for me to face my fear.
Of course as soon as I said I’d go I started freaking out about it.
Yesterday was a very busy day, so I was running late. Because I had to go out and face my fears, I was ok with this. And I deliberately took longer than usual getting ready. Procrastinating is very common for people with anxiety, it’s almost like we think if we delay the inevitable long enough that maybe it won’t happen?
I did get a confidence boost just before I left, when I discovered that the dress I wanted to wear fit! It used to be really tight but last night it was almost baggy!
I arrived just over an hour late and sat in the car for a few minutes preparing myself then decided it’s now or never and made my way inside.
Immediately it became obvious that I had agonized over nothing. Everyone who saw me was pleased to see me and struck up conversations right away. It actually took me a while to get inside for all the chat!
Once inside I grabbed a water and was offered a chair. There was a bit of conversation going on but the music was really loud and pumping and I managed to get myself dragged onto the dance floor.
The next couple of hours are a blur but what I can tell you is I had a great time. We danced to all sorts of different music that the DJ was mixing, we laughed, took photos and I had an absolute ball. I was planning on leaving after half an hour but I ended up staying for about two and a half hours. I still wanted an early night, that’s become my thing in recent months, but I was reluctant to leave, which is the part that I’m still marveling over. It’s a good feeling.
I don’t know if my workmates knew I was scared of socializing with them, but it doesn’t matter. They gave me the best sober night out I’ve had in a really long time and for that I am truly grateful. And I’m really looking forward to the retelling of stories on Monday.
Smiles and Sunshine