Things that make me anxious, part 8: Meeting People
Everyone has that one friend who is a butterfly. Throw her into any social situation and she'll be BFFs with even the most cynical of the bunch in no time at all (go on, literally THROW HER, she'll come out rosy!). She somehow bounces from person to person, leaving a musk of "she's so cool" in her wake.
I am not that friend. I am certainly not that flirt.
I am unapproachable and I am awkward. Just one of those people you walk away from and think "God, she hates me!" - but I really don't. I have neither the malice nor the energy to hate anyone really, maybe Hitler if he was still about; but he isn't so what's the point? I have a pretty intense RBF (Resting Bitch Face), which is what makes me so unapproachable... but what makes me so God damn socially horrible?
You guessed it, anxiety.
Let's pretend you're totally familiar with RBF (hell, maybe you even have it) and, against all odds, you approach me to say something other than "SMILE!". Maybe you come over to say something normal like "Hello, I'm John." Maybe it's not normal, maybe that's not your name, but let's assume that it is.
As you can tell, I'm already suspicious of you. You're too friendly, there's too much eye contact and you've given me a fake name. I'm probably going to pretend I have earphones in, despite the fact I know you can see that I haven't. A second "Hello" is going to freak me out, but you're not to know, so that's where we're at. To keep smiling like that after I've just ignored you is a clear sign of insanity so, while I scan the area for shields and/or escape routes, I try to think of something kind to say.
The folder in my brain labeled "Kind" has got all jumbled up in the suddenness of this crazy situation so I'm left with the Bizarre Question folder (Can you draw a circle with your elbow?), the Terrifying Facts folder (Did you know that 40% of women don't wash their hands after using the toilet?) and the Fear folder ("WASP! WASP!").
I vividly remember the time I was walking home along and a drunk shouted "IRISH!", as he grabbed my arm and I thank the Lord that you haven't touched me. It's probably because of my eyebrows. I focus on breathing properly, grounding my mind and doing a something normal with my arms, which are bothering me.
A wave of cool comes over me and, in this moment of clarity, I realise that you're probably sweet and friendly. You're actually kinda cute, aren't you, John, you dark horse. When did that sneak up on us? So I say "Hi." and you don't stab me. I forget to give you my name, obviously, we can't all be winners all the time, but I've calmed the crazy eyes and done a grimace that I hope you'll see as a half smile. "Did you know that 40% of me can draw a wasp without using the toilet?"
While you stand there looking forlorn, I retreat into my imaginary earphones, picturing the nice spring wedding that we'll never have.
Bye, John. Maybe see you on Tinder?