I’m not a socially anxious person. I proud myself as a extroverted person with anxiety because it oftentimes sounds contradictory. But social anxiety is a type of anxiety, like a square is a rectangle, or bourbon is a whiskey which I admittedly found out recently.
I had group therapy with a socially anxious person and I wanted to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and say, “JUST FUCKING GO TO THAT PARTY. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU, THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT EASY.” Obviously, that would have been inappropriate and against my morals on people’s mental health learning curve. Everyone goes at their own pace.
But recently, I found myself heading straight on to a new, very millennial-esque form of anxiety and sadness that could be drawn into the social anxiety Venn diagram.
I got a bad GIF in an email.
What do I mean by bad GIF? I meme—I mean, I received a GIF that was degrading and left me feeling super duper sad (third-world, millennial problems, amirite).
Here’s the story:
It was paycheck time for the interns at my internship. We received an email from the operations manager saying they were in and I, wanting to fit in with the cool crowd, sent a reply with a happy-jumping Rachel from Friends smiling at her first Central Perk paycheck GIF.
(If anyone believes this to be inappropriate, please let me know because I’m still learning how to be a professional).
My internship is all about social media—it’s a social media marketing company. People send GIFs and memes and make videos about their favorite vines. I thought a GIF would get me IN there, ya know?
I knew not.
The next morning before going into the office, I get a response back…
There was Ross Geller, eyebrows turned in pity, looking me up and down. He uttered the helpless, two-letter word that wrenched my guts.
What did this GIF mean??? Was the OM being funny? Was he telling me, NO don’t send me GIFS what are you doing? Was he trying to show off his Friends knowledge by replying to my Rachel reply with a Ross, the love of her life, reply? I mean LOOK AT THAT FACE. That’s a face that says “Henny, sit down.”
What is going on??
I went into work like it was a rainy day. I kid you not. I was miserable. I thought the world was out to get me. I felt minimized and distanced from my peers. I was a lonely intern, sentenced to three months in an office where everyone HATED me.
So, yeah, I had to chill.
My negative thoughts overtook me and I had to tell them to sit down. Therapy has taught me how to shut them up (fuck you ANTs!). I just had to grab my shoulders and say, “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU, THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT EASY.” (I’ve dealt with my learning curve).
It’s true. It sounds sad; of course people care about you. But if I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, from attending parties and walking down the street, it’s that we all worry too much about what people think about ourselves.
I worried the OM thought I was pathetic or inappropriate. But no one’s paying attention to me that much, and if they are, they’re probably thinking I’m judging them, too. Everyone’s worried about themselves, not others.
Now, I see the OM probably doesn’t care about me which is a blessing in disguise. I’m not going into my internship letting shit like that get me down—or so I tell myself now. I’ll probably get a meme over text and I’ll be crying to my therapist in no time.
Going back to that email to find the GIFs to embed in this post was terrifying and I’ll probably delete them.