The price I pay for leaving the house:
After two solid weekends of densely packed social activity I am something of a wreck, but I know it's all probably really good for me. I get so stuck in my comfort zone at home, with only my nearest and dearest (and lots and lots of pets) for company that I always need the practice.
These days I generally feel more confident teaching a packed workshop than meeting new people and trying to forge social bonds. One is my job, and even if I feel anxious beforehand, I love it while I'm doing it. The other involves putting myself forward not only as an artist, but as a person, and I'm plagued by the paranoia that I'm likely to be found somehow deficient in that department.
Remember that old cartoon "Super Ted"? No? Maybe it's before your time, but you can check out the classic British intro on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouLJ-dP1Wps That bit where "they found something wrong with him and threw him away like a piece of rubbish" kind of sums up my fears in regards to how people are likely to react once they actually have a conversation with me.
Even when they don't slide surreptitiously away from my verbal fumblings, I always suspect that they have only tolerated my company so long because they are just very nice people. And so I go home and agonise about all of the things I've probably said or done that may have offended them or caused them believe I am a total waste of resources.
Because there have been genuine moments of rejection - realising that peers I really liked did not much like me over the years has only made my paranoia worse.
Truly confident folk will probably never understand why I care so much, but I've spent most of my life feeling as though I never quite fit in with other people. Not until I met my husband, with whom I am completely at ease. We've created our own strange community of kids, cats, chickens, a dog, a rabbit, and the few special friends we feel secure letting into our home and our hearts.
Venturing outside of my sanctuary inevitably leads to insecurity, self doubt, and yes, all of the social anxiety! Still, I can't help but believe it's worth attempting. At the very heart of me, I want to belong, so I'll just keep on trying too hard, and over-thinking even harder.
Only a few more days and this particular week of self-flagellation will be over. Bring on the weekend!