An invitation out isn’t always good news for me. When my anxiety acts up, I get worried about driving to meet up with friends. I get worried about which roads to take, whether my tires will pop, whether my gas will run out. Then I get worried about the actual event I’m supposed to be excited about attending. I worry about what to say, what questions to ask, what to do with my hands. I worry about telling the wrong jokes, about keeping too quiet, about looking awkward and insecure.

Canceling plans should make me feel better. It should give me a chance to sit back, relax, and enjoy my alone time. It should take away all of my worries — but it only creates another set of worries.

When I cancel plans, I feel guilty. I make a hard switch from worrying other people don’t actually want me around to worrying about disappointing them by not showing up when they were excited about seeing me. I worry about losing (or straining) close friendships.

When I cancel plans, I worry about what other people are going to think of me. I worry about coming across as fickle, as unreliable, as unfriendly. I worry about making myself look bad on accident. I worry about giving out the wrong impression. I worry about looking like an asshole.

When I cancel plans, I worry about friends distancing themselves from me. I worry about not getting invited out the next time because I turned them down too many times in a row before. I worry about seeming like I couldn’t care less about being included when it secretly means the world to me.

I’m happy to be asked out. I’m happy to be invited. Unfortunately, my anxiety even makes it hard for me to do things I want to do.

When I cancel plans, I spend the whole day moping. I worry about whether I made the wrong decision. I worry about missing out on a good time. I worry about robbing myself of fun memories. I worry about wasting away my youth. I worry about turning into a recluse, a loner, an outsider. I worry about becoming someone I never wanted to be.

When I cancel plans, I feel like my anxiety has won. I feel like there is something wrong with me. I feel like I’ve disappointed myself — and have maybe even disappointed a few of my closest friends, friends who I would never want to hurt.

My anxiety makes it impossible to win. I’m either going to have anxiety about going out with people or I’m going to have anxiety about canceling plans. I’m either going to be uncomfortable in a crowd or uncomfortable in my own bedroom. I’m either going to hate myself for looking like an idiot in front of people I want to impress or I’m going to hate myself for choosing to stay home instead of putting myself out there, making an effort, actually taking a chance on myself. TC mark


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