Social anxiety. It's so real. When I teased on Instagram that I'd be talking about social anxiety you all responded with a, "YES, I totally have that too!". So why did I originally decide to write about this? Because as much as I love talking about the warm and fuzzies, sometimes it's the realness of life that needs a little love.
I recently saw this topic trending when Kristen Bell said in an interview she's had depression and anxiety since she was young. Pointing to the moment her mother got candid with her about a family history of depression. While this blog isn't about depression, it points to the fact that even when people "have it all" they are fighting their own battles and anxiety is something 99.9% of people can relate to experiencing at one point or another in their life.
In this interview she says it all in one sentence for me, "I shatter a little bit when I think people don't like me". Yes. All of this. While I recognize that everyone has their own triggers of social anxiety, for me, it stems from a childhood of being bullied.
I could write a whole book on the topic of bullying, but I won't. What I will say is as an only child I'm very introspective, introverted even. But I was a living paradox, this introvert was also an avid opera singer, actress, and had a short-lived cheerleading career as a Junior Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader in second grade and then again as a Junior Dallas Mavericks Cheerleader in fifth. I was out there performing for thousands of people, and then showing up to school shy.
Let me also say, if you were a teacher or classmate, you may not think this was the case. Shy? Stephanie? The girl who got detention for talking too much when there was a giant seagull outside the class window? The girl who was first to raise her hand to read like she was on the broadway stage? The girl who was on Radio Disney? Left school for Barney auditions? Shy?! Yes.
Why? Because when I would put myself out there, there was always a little boy with a crush or jealous girl to put me down. Now, even if I was internally freaking out, that didn't mean I was going to be quiet. This, this is the part people miss about social anxiety.
Just because someone may feel anxious before, or during a situation, doesn't mean they can't overcome that feeling. Welcome to my world. For me, I always had a performance to lean on. At the end of a performance, when the crowd applauds. That. Ugh, that moment I lived for. Now, I get that it's not as easy when you don't have a big payout to look forward to for putting yourself out there. But let's think of it this way, the reward is, you're living baby!
So why the title, "It's Not Always Easy Being Nice"? Because as someone who has spent a lifetime feeling anxious about others trying to bring me down, or laugh at me, or judge me, or mock me, it's not always easy being nice. It's actual work. I have to love myself, keep myself accountable to my own actions, curate the right loving people around me, and keep a positive attitude. I have to work to remember those moments of revelation that come with being an adult; mainly, it truly doesn't matter what others think of you. If you are steadfast and honest to your morals and yourself, the right people will support you and care. Sound too easy? It's not. With the messages that are disseminated through the media, social and otherwise, it can be a challenge to maintain your own unshakable identity. However, when you do, it is so sweet.
All of this said, I posted the above pic because now that life has flipped upside down on me, and the people who bullied me are my Facebook and IG friends, and now that I get recognized by strangers in passing whom I've shared my life with for the past three years, the anxiety is still very real. The picture was taken at an absolutely stunning event, that my plus one was an hour late to. It was such a first world problem. But SO real. As most of you know, I recently went through a very public break up. That said, the last thing I wanted to do was "catch up" with anyone this night. I just wanted to wear my outfit, eat the food, take pictures, and enjoy this gorgeous event.
Instead, I spent half of the time either dodging people or awkwardly excusing myself from conversations. This photo was one of those moments. As I tried to escape the masses, the incredible local photographer Daniel Driensky asked me to pose for this picture. What was I going to say, no? I'm a professional dammit. So here it is, in all my glory: my awkward face.
When I post this on IG I think it's a safe bet to say all people will see is the background and my Movida outfit, but I hope for those who have taken time to read this, you will know I too am one of you! Awkward, anxious, and faking it til I make it! So friends, here's to the geeks, the misfits, the late bloomers, for it is us who run this world. 😆