I think I have always had a degree of social anxiety. It was just referred to as shyness when I was young. And shy I was. I never wanted to be singled out in any way. Hated to read out loud for my turn in class. I knew I would stumble on a word and everyone (or at least some) would laugh at me. As I grew up and cliques were a thing, I was a part of the loser’s clique – those not into sports, those not quite brainiacs, not the juvenile delinquents, and not the preppy crowd.
As I grew, I still retained my shyness. That is one reason it shocked me that I could work as a cashier. But as long as the customers were friendly or on their phones indifferent, I actually enjoyed wearing the mask of a happy cashier. Until my anxiety worsened. Suddenly long lines freaked me out and I could barely check a customer out without shaking. And if there was any kind of conflict I just wanted to hide. Not the best state of mind to be in.
Maybe it was the incident where the customer threw my water bottle down on the ground that started my decline. She was pissed about a price that rang up wrong. A supervisor told her it was right, and she reached over and grabbed my bottle and reached back with it (I would have sworn she was going to hit me with it) and threw it down across the floor. I had to fill out a police report and everything on the whole thing. Being “threatened” in the workplace, certainly did NOTHING to set my mind at ease.
Now I have anxiety pills I take to keep the edge off. I no longer can work. I have panic attacks if the anxiety gets too bad. And I am unable to drive on an interstate or with lots of traffic. I have heard the term social anxiety but never been told face to face I have it… but I am sure I do. Large crowds are awful! Even a group of 4 or more can put me on edge. So, I take my meds, attempt to meditate, and am starting some very light yoga. I do all I can to make it through day by day.
Written for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC) – social