One reader's rave

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Yesterday I checked out a party at one of the office buildings I visit regularly. I'd seen it announced there as an Open House a couple days before; nonetheless, noticing from the outside how classy it looked, I worried that I might not be admitted since I'm not a tenant. I'd thought of going there before visiting the credit union to make a deposit, but turned away out of feeling intimidated. While making the errand, I realized this was an instance of my principle, "If you're afraid of something for no good reason, that's a very good reason to do it," and that this was an opportunity to give myself an exposure to help me learn not to be controlled by social anxiety. I decided to put myself in something like the "little kid trance" that I discovered several years ago, looking at everything wide-eyed without anticipation, only curiosity. In this way I got myself to walk in. As a further exposure to the possibility of rejection, and preempt any sense that I was "sneaking in," I stopped to ask the security officer, "So, what's all this?" He said it was a Christmas party. He then asked if I work there, and I said "No, I deliver payrolls here." He nodded but said nothing else. So I walked a little further in and looked around. Lots of people were talking, eating, and drinking. Together they were making a lot of noise. I could have served myself food or a drink, but didn't see much point in that by itself. I might have felt differently if I'd seen someone I recognized. I'd have probably at least spent a moment greeting and making small talk with them. But since I didn't notice anyone I knew, hanging around just for some free food and drink didn't seem very interesting. And I had other things I meant to get done before going home. In the last analysis, I felt the most important thing was that I had given myself an exposure to something that was triggering my social anxiety, and showed myself that I could manage it. So after a moment I left.

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