Three DO's and DO NOT's for Social Anxiety at Parties

Gemma CorrellAh, ‘tis the end of the holiday season, and I am %^$-ing exhausted. No offense to Presidentially pardoned turkeys, Santa, and the New Year’s Sparkle Ball up in New York, but life is non-stop starting in mid-November. Tons of parties, most of them holiday-themed or family-related, will take up a lot of time. And even though I suffer from some general social anxiety, I like meeting with my friends at the expense of wearing a silly hat in public. I’ll worry about people judging me while wearing said silly hat, but hey, look, free food!

Of course, parties are a year-round thing and I feel like I’ve made growth over my years of attending family and business functions where I’ve had to find a little me-time. I know my actions could be misconstrued as “anti-social” or “rude.” However, these are steps I take to relieve the feeling of overwhelmedness. After all, I could be doing a lot worse…

In fact, I’ve made a list of three basic DO’s and DO NOT’s for those moments when social anxiety gets the best of you at parties.

DO... Politely excuse yourself from a conversation by saying you “need some air.”

This is everyone’s go-to escape route, and it’s tried and true for a reason. Sometimes a party can get too crowded or the music can be too loud or whatever reason that it just becomes too much. And “getting air” can mean going outside or simply going into another room that is vacant or not as occupied.

DO NOT... Scream, “I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU ANYMORE,” and then barrel down anyone in your way.

I know this is what you want to do, but unless you are a talking, sentient version of the boulder from Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s best not to do this. You will most likely injure yourself and other people that may be holding glassware and plasticware. If you must do one of these things, do the screaming part, but only in extreme cases that involve Terry Gilliam-level weirdness.

DO... Find a quiet corner of the party and hang out with a the house pet.

If you’re at a house party that is not the crazy, claustrophobic college messes you used to go to, let me introduce you to your new friends: the empty corner and the domestic animal inhabiting it. It may be a dog, it may be a cat, and if you’re lucky, it could be something exotic like a capybara. But this precious creature will sit quietly and will not judge you for being too overworked at a party. In their minds, they’re probably saying, “Yes, human, you look exhausted. Come sit with me. Feel free to give me scratches under my ears and sip your beverage. You are safe here.” At parties where animals are not allowed, a close friend or a favorite co-worker is an acceptable substitute. However, know that the humans will verbally respond when you ask, “Who’s a pretty kitty? Who’s a kitty! Kitty, kitty!”

DO NOT... Grab said pet and escape in your car.

This is called “kidnapping.” If you need a point of reference of what this might look like to onlookers, think of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

DO… Offer to run errands if you can’t find a space for yourself.

Guess what people love? Snacks! Guess where more snacks are if the party is running out? Outside the party! Take it upon yourself to go on a snack run for the shindig. You will have some time to yourself at a nice, spacious grocery store while being the hero of the party. What I often do is ask someone--typically my husband--to be my “errand sender.” He or she will make the suggestion that maybe we need more snacks. I’ll suggest that I’ll go, and good old errand sender follows up with the question that only one person will dare ask: “Do you want me to go with you?” The errand sender is setting up a ruse so that you can say “no” and be on your way to the store while he or she mans the front and explains you went to get snacks all by yourself.

DO NOT... Lock yourself in the bathroom with a bottle of wine and a napkin of appetizers.

I actually kind of did this once. I was a teenager, so it was minus the bottle of wine and it was at a holiday church function. It’s a real weird experience, guys. As your blogger friend… please don’t do this.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

(Image: Gemma Correll)