During a work meeting yesterday (that was actually in person instead of via zoom #vaccinatedlife) I was munching on a bag of chips. Work had provided them for us to snack on, but I realized that I was the only one doing it during the meeting. In my defense, I hadn’t had breakfast that morning and I was starving. Nevertheless, a bag of chips might be the wrong snack for a meeting, as every crinkle of the bag and every crunch seems to be distracting from what the speaker is saying.
And I get that some of that might be me exaggerating the impact in my mind, but since I have an anxiety disorder that is what my mind tends to do. Indeed, even without chips I sometimes feel like I am being scrutinized and watched when I am in social situations. Logically I know this isn’t true, but that doesn’t change the fact that that is how I feel when I am in group settings. And things that make noise, like chips, only fuel that feeling.
Yet it can be anything that I feel causes me to stand out. A new haircut, the shirt I am wearing, the pants I am wearing, are my glasses clean enough, do I have anything on my face, is my wedding ring on straight, if I glance at my Apple watch because I just got a notification will people think I am being rude, and for crying out loud why am I still eating these chips! That is an only slightly exaggerated version of what goes through my head during social settings. And now maybe you can see why I have social anxiety.
And I know I am not alone in having intrusive thoughts and social anxiety. But it does get better. Therapy, and medication, and the vast array of coping tools I’ve learned over the course of my recovery have helped me be more relaxed during these social settings and has helped me enjoy them more.
But chips might have still been a bad choice.