Right before I go out of my way to hang out with someone new or someone I don’t know well:
Me: Hey badass! You are a great friend and anyone would be lucky to have you in their life. Just relax and be yourself so they can see how hilarious, compassionate, interesting, and awesome you are. You got this!
During interactions with people:
Anxiety: Don’t say something stupid. Don’t say something stupid. Don’t say something stupid. Don’t say something stupid.
Me: Something stupid.
Anxiety: Why did you say that? I told you not to. I’m so embarrassed!! Now they won’t like you! Ok, we can turn this around. Ignore what you said and maybe no one noticed.
Me: Something even stupider.
Anxiety: Alright, well that was an epic fail. They will never like you now so you might as well just give up trying. You are officially done talking until we can sneak away.
Me: *Smiling and nodding along during conversations*
Anxiety: Cool, now we are coming across as boring and weird, even better. Try to make a joke or something, show them you have a brain and you know how to use it.
Me: Something stupid.
Anxiety: Right…well I think it is time to go home now, we are done here.
*This trend continues throughout the entire visit: trying so hard to watch what I say and do that I usually say and do exactly what I told myself not to say and do. Then I shut down and belittle myself for saying and doing what I told myself not to say and do.*
Person: We have to go, but it was so great meeting you. Let’s hang out again soon! Could I have your number?”
Me: I would love that!
*Exchange numbers, say goodbyes*
Me: Maybe that wasn’t so bad after all!
Anxiety: Oh honey.
Me: Was it really that bad?
Anxiety: They hate you.
Anxiety: Let’s dissect every word and every phrase and every action of every conversation and discuss how they could have interpreted what you said and did negatively and go over and over what you should have said and done instead.
Me: But…they asked for my number…
Anxiety: Look, it has been 5 minutes since they got your number and they haven’t reached out yet, obviously they hate you.
Anxiety: You are a horrible person and no one likes you. This is why you have no friends. Next time let’s save the embarrassment and just stay home.
Me: I guess you’re right.
Anxiety: Hey, on the way home let’s pick up some ice cream and wallow in our sorrows.
Me: Sounds good.
*Cries over a bowl of ice cream*
The next day:
Anxiety: Why haven’t they texted you? What if they call you instead!?
Me: Oh dear god, please don’t call me. *checks phone* Still no message.
Anxiety: Welp, they definitely hate you and your life is over.
New person via text: Hey! It was so great to meet you yesterday. Would you like to meet us at the park for a play date? We will be there in about 10 minutes.
Me: We would love that!
Anxiety: Are you serious? You really want to go through all of that again? They must be desperate if they want to hang out with someone so boring and weird. Why don’t they have better friends? AND IN 10 MINUTES?!? You don’t have time to mentally prepare for all that in 10 minutes!!
Me: Oh wait, I just realized I can’t. Sorry!
Anxiety: Good girl.
Person: Oh bummer! Let’s plan something next week then.
Anxiety: Told you they hated you. Let’s never leave the house again. I am the only friend you will ever have.