Around this time of year, there tends to be quite a few parties. The last few dribs and drabs of Halloween are filtering out but now you’ve got Bonfire Night up ahead with Christmas and New Year creeping ever closer. For most, it’s a happy time of year but for people with social anxiety – it could be their personal definition of hell.
When put in an uncomfortable social situation like a party, the first thing your mind goes to is how to get out. It starts thinking of excuses, escape routes, any way to make a quick exit so that barely anyone notices. It’s a shame really, because parties can be fun when your mind switches off and you’re no longer focused on worrying.Unfortunately, when you have social anxiety, I know that it’s not that easy.
I’m not a party person. I don’t enjoy parties. I’m not one of those girls who goes to house parties every weekend and gets drunk etc. partly because of my social anxiety. I dislike being in big groups of people and especially if it’s loud. I start to get very panicky and claustrophobic if I’m surrounded and I can feel the anxiety setting it the moment I walk in the room. This makes social gatherings pretty difficult for me. Unluckily for me, my parents have a lot of friends and I have friends who have parents who are friends with my parents and so I end up invited to a lot of parties that, to be totally honest, I have no desire whatsoever to attend. It’s a less than uncomfortable situation to be in.
I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. I can’t be. Out of 7 billion people in the world, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t like parties but ends up going and hating every moment because they’re paranoid and panicky. So, despite a fear of sounding like the most hypocritical person on the planet, here are some tips which could just help when you are struggling with social anxiety at a party scene.
First off, take some friends with you. I know that having people around you when you have social anxiety might sound like the worst idea in the world but hear me out. If you’re around friends then you tend to feel safer and happier and less anxious. I went to a Halloween party last month and to make me feel more comfortable, I asked the host if I could bring my group of friends. By having them around me, I actually managed to enjoy myself which is very unusual.
Try and challenge any negative thoughts you are having in the party situation. If you’re thinking that you look stupid, challenge that by saying that you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing so you can’t look stupid if you’re happy with your fashion choices or if it’s fancy dress, realise that everyone else around you looks stupid too so you’re not alone. Once you’ve challenged these thoughts, you’ve silenced that negative little voice in your head that prevents you from having a good time so you can relax a little and focus on having fun.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take a time out. I know this whole article has been about not trying to escape and just enjoy it but it’s not good if you’re in a situation where you are so anxious that you are at high risk of having a full blown panic attack. I’m not saying leave the party completely, I’m just suggesting you take a few minutes for yourself to calm down. Go outside or to the bathroom and take some deep breaths or practice whatever technique works for you.
If you need someone there with you, ask someone to come with you or if you need to be alone, slip away discreetly. If anyone is likely to be worried if you disappear, just let them know you need some air or that you’re feIfeInng anxious. It’s not a weakness or a defeat – everyone need a few minutes to themselves, every now and then.
I know it’s hard but just try and have fun because everyone deserves to have a good time and let their hair down for once. Especially you, darling.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.