I’m almost out of conditioner so I went to the store specifically to buy that very thing, but when I got in the hair product aisle there was a couple standing exactly where I needed to be, just sort of browsing the selections while talking amongst themselves, and I tried sidling in next to them but their physical proximity made me anxious, like it seemed weird that they were there first and having their conversation about hair stuff or whatever and I was, like, barging in, totally merging our respective personal space bubbles in an uncool way, and so I reviewed my options: 1) Keep going and come back later when they’re gone, but won’t that look odd, like I was clearly wanting to get something and then at the last second veered away all awkward-like, and what if that prompts them to make faces at each other as soon as my back is turned, like a shared The heck was THAT all about? expression, or 2) Just grab something quickly and decisively as though I had super important things to be doing and hadn’t in fact been looking forward to spending a non-trivial portion of my morning gazing at a shelf of snake-oil promises while basking in words like luscious and nutrient rich, UGH FINE LET’S GO WITH DOOR #2, and so I lunged blindly at a random bottle which wasn’t even a brand I liked AND it turned out to be shampoo, and while at that point the obvious thing to do was to return it to the shelf — perhaps with a slight shake of the head, a tiny half-smile so as to properly convey an airy Silly me, I almost bought the wrong thing! vibe — and get the product I actually wanted, what I did was throw it in my cart and walk briskly to the checkout line because at that point accepting a financial punishment for my ridiculous course of (in)action seemed entirely appropriate and seriously everything else just seemed WAY too hard.

Social anxiety reminds me of the thing Meryl Streep said about fretting about your weight: “There is no more mind-numbing, boring, idiotic, self-destructive diversion from the fun of living.” Well, yeah. And yet here I am with this unwanted bottle of macadamia nut shampoo.

But I guess that’s the thing, it’s all in how you look at it. Do I spend my life hating myself for being so self-conscious all the time and thus growing ever more self-conscious? Do I forcefully Stuart Smalley myself into some attempt to change the way I react and behave in certain situations? Or maybe, just maybe, is it okay to just … accept all my borked-up thinking with some measure of kindness, and be okay with the fact that sometimes I straight-up forget how to human? Because I can either have my dumb hair product flail and turn it into yet another reason I’m a waste of food, or I can laugh about it afterwards and be grateful for my authentic, sorta-disordered self — and also for free 2-day shipping.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Just do it. You deserve that conditioner just as much as that couple does. Your space is just as good as theirs. Social anxiety sucks, I know. There comes a time when you are aware of it-like in this post. Then you have your options..I’ve been practicing just turning the nervousness down. Because it keeps me from being happy, getting the things I want (the proverbial conditioner.)

Melissa A.
Melissa A.
6 years ago

Sooo, what you’re saying is maybe I’m not as big a freak as I think I am because in this situation I would have walked away and then kept circling back, all the while hating those people for being in MY space. So if we’re doing it, then other people are doing it, and that means this kind of behavior is normal!

Serrorserror
Serrorserror
6 years ago

Heck, I don’t even have social anxiety and I wouldn’t want that couple standing close while I spend an in ordinate amount of time deciding what precious drug store hair product to buy. I would have definitely circled back.

A family friend’s mother once said a kind of awful thing to her as a teenager as she dithered on what to wear.
“Nobody will be looking at you!”

But now we use it as a bit of a mantra:
Don’t know what to wear to that event? Doesn’t matter, nobody will be looking at you!
Hair looks too crazy for a run to the store? Doesn’t matter, nobody is looking at you!
Want to buy ice cream and potato chips for dinner? Doesn’t matter, nobody is looking at you.

And a good way to remember that that we are all so wrapped up in our own heads that we rarely register the things others are worrying about in their own heads.

Kizz
6 years ago

Donate that macadamia shampoo to a women’s shelter and the whole event was for a good cause. I absolutely feel you.

Courtinfl
Courtinfl
6 years ago

Been there a million times. Some days I can handle the store..other days I have a full on panic attack. Anxiety sucks.

Barb.
Barb.
6 years ago

I would have totally zoomed past them awkwardly. Like haha, I steered in the WRONG DIRECTION! GOTTA GO. I am NOT a weirdo. I then would’ve stalked them from the next aisle, waiting for them to leave — or just gone home and visited my pal Amazon.

I would totally be your socially anxious comrade-in-arms but I would be terribly awkward.

Em
Em
6 years ago

Yes. Accept yourself for who you are, even if you forget how to human! (Love that.) So much easier said than done, but hating yourself will just make everything worse. I have been working on being kinder to myself. I find myself calling myself an idiot under my breath all the time. Not healthy!

Anyway, I hear you.

JudithNYC
JudithNYC
6 years ago

I have social anxiety too. Retirement and Amazon Prime have made my life so much better.

What I hate about my type of anxiety is that I would have engaged the couple in conversation, told them all sorts of stuff they did not care about while my heart rate shot up to 150 or higher, then kicked myself the rest of the day for not being able to control my mouth. Many times by the time I reach home I am in tears.

Did I say I love Amazon?

Adrien
6 years ago

Oh, girl. We’ve all done this. Every one of us. So, yesterday I was checking out at Target and a guy got in line behind me and a quick glance confirmed he was a creep I went on one date with last year and he very clearly said, “Hello” to the back of my head and I just PRETENDED LIKE IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. And of course my transaction lasted forever while that hanging “hello” pinged into the space behind me and I fled without a backwards glance. Not awkward at all.

Jess (Big Neffy)
Jess (Big Neffy)
6 years ago

Amazon might be your spirit animal, but you’re mine. I did a similar thing at the grocery store yesterday. There was a woman looking at the soup, comparing labels and I needed to grab a can of Annie’s Stars & Sauce or something and I could SEE it, but…the woman was there pondering. So…I instead just awkwardly stood there staring at red lentils or something like I found them SO fascinating. She finally moved on a few minutes later, I snatched the Annie’s and tossed it in my cart and started to move. She then turned to me (NO!!!) and said “Why didn’t you ask me to move.” I almost died. I just…no. I tried to be an adult (I am 36 after all) and answer but it came out all “Oh, I wasn’t, I mean, I was looking. I…don’t know what I’m doing.” and slunk away.

Alex
6 years ago

Now you’re onto something. Enjoy being you. xo

Dawn
Dawn
6 years ago

I’m sure you probably hear this a lot but it’s hard to believe the personality splashed on these pages has social anxiety. You’re awesome but I get it. Most of the time I’m fine with any social interaction but then some weird situation creeps up on me and I get…awkward.

bz
bz
6 years ago

Me too. But, even worse, cause I’ve actually let people install 5000 dollar flooring in my house that was wrong cause I was too anxious to talk to them.

I’m 50 and have started to recognize that making a better me has limited utility. Now, if I could extend the courtesy to the rest of my family, I’d be getting somewhere.

Saskia
Saskia
6 years ago

The worst thing about social anxiety is that everybody has it to some degree, and as a result most people are more attentive to themselves and not to you. They might not even have noticed you for more than the second you where actually in their space. Maybe they where thinking shit, we are blocking the aisle and feeling anxious about that.

Alison
Alison
6 years ago

I find it comforting that I’m not the only one like this. I finally realized that the little salon like a mile from my house carries the products I use. They cost less than online and I don’t have to pay customs. And yet it is still a struggle to make myself go inside and talk to someone to get them. I find going into small stores anxiety making in general. I have to actively remind myself that they WANT customers. They WANT me to come inside. It’s ridiculous, but there you are.

sara
sara
6 years ago

it sounds so easy, but in reality it’s so hard. YES you’ve gotta just love the pile of messy neuroses that you are. we all have to. and man, do i identify with this story.

D
D
6 years ago

I just wanted to say that I’m really glad you’re blogging again. And also, Amazon is a godsend and don’t feel bad for using it to avoid awkward conditioner interactions.

Anne
6 years ago

I’m certain it would be weird if you knew the number of times I’ve read one or part of your posts in therapy all “Look, THIS. This is what I’ve been trying to explain.” And yet I’m commenting about it anyway.
(Thanks for sharing.)

Barbara
Barbara
6 years ago

First your creamer post, now this! You are so inside my head. After a solo trip to the grocery store yesterday, I realized that those trips are WAY easier with my 2 little boys in tow. Because although they drive me crazy in those trips, there’s no time to have any social anxiety with them around… they are all consuming :)

Cel
Cel
6 years ago

Me too, Linda.
Since getting an injury at work, and going through the hell of the system, I’ve become recluse. Chronic pain, treated poorly by Docs…depression, anxiety. Thank goodness for Amazon. Thank you for being so inspiring, honest. You make me feel like I’m not alone. One day at a time.

Lorraine
Lorraine
6 years ago

I would have spent that non-trivial portion of time browsing the lip gloss or nail polish aisle, while peeking around the corner at the hair product aisle occasionally, until the couple was gone and I had all the whole space to myself. Not like I’ve done that before or anything.

Shawna
6 years ago

This thread is a bit of an eye-opener to me, I have to admit. I would have been the woman who talked to Jess (Big Neffy) and said something like “oh gosh, I’m sorry, I would have moved if I’d realized…” and it would never have occurred to me I was putting anyone on the spot.

Mary Clare
Mary Clare
6 years ago

Yup, I can relate. Social awkwardness just pops up sometimes, even on a good day. Out of the blue I don’t feel like engaging with people, even with people I like. In a small town, that leaves me avoiding eye contact with acquaintances in the grocery store. I don’t know why I do it.

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