Life is full of beautiful contradictions. The more one tries to impress people, the less impressed people will be; the more available someone is, the less attracted we are; we park in the driveway and drive on the parkway; and perhaps the most beautiful, twisted contradiction: I LOVE partying but I have crippling social anxiety.
I used to repeat the guest list I was using over and over to myself in the cab on the way to The Box. Just saying a name at the door would make me feel like the world was ending. Then once I got inside, I would be LIVING. If I hated going out, I wouldn’t put myself through the torture I go through before getting there. But I actually thrive at bars and clubs! I was raised a guidette: drinks and dancing are my medicine.
So, how do I deal with the stomach-turning-bones-shaking-shitting-pants-can’t-breathe anxiety I experience before going out? We’re gonna get through this together, fellow anxious babe.
“Every time I get really excited, like if we go to a club, I have to poop my pants. If we go to a party, I have to poop my pants, if I go on a date, like this, with a hot guy, I have to poop my pants.” – my hero, Snooki
If you’re like me and love to toss back vodka sodas and scream-sing Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, but go through unbearable torture until you’re wasted, allow me to list the ways in which I calm the dumpster fire called social anxiety inside of me.
Lol sorry I didn’t say this was going to be healthy advice. I know I just said these were the steps to hold you over until you’re wasted, but you need to drink to get wasted. Speaking of getting wasted, don’t get too wasted. You think you have social anxiety now, girl? It’s nothing compared to the crushing-chest-head-fog-panic-shame-spiral you’ll feel if you wake up tomorrow not remembering last night. You have a 5 drink max, babe. After the first two, you should start feeling yourself. Maybe start swaying those hips a little. Check out some girls. After the third, you’ll be like, anxiety who? The fourth and fifth are bonus drinks if you can handle it, and only if you can handle it, you hear me, lez? Don’t suck them all down at once.
2) Practice Dancing In The Mirror.
No one will ever look at hot as Carmen dancing, but damn it, we can try.
The most embarrassing yet the most useful thing I have ever done was type “sexy club girl dance” into YouTube. That’s actually not the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done — more accurately, it’s the whitest. I used to be a dancer and guess what made me stop — social anxiety! Unless I’m drunk, I get really in my head about dancing. But this one simple move never fails: If you bend your knees and slowly straighten one at a time, it looks like you know how to shake your hips. Practice in the mirror so you don’t obsess over how you look at the club. And after your third drink, you won’t even care that you’re Jersey Turnpiking a girl you just met in the middle of the dance floor.
Jersey Turnpike (verb): For all you classy types who don’t know, a dance move in which you plant your ass against your partner’s crotch and bend down.
3) Be nice!
I used to turn into major bitch mode as a defense mechanism for how insecure I was feeling. I’d scowl at anyone that looked at me. I acted like I was too good to talk to strangers. Now I am always smiling and say to hi everyone! It’s much easier, and much more fun. I know it’s tempting to put on your bitch armor when you’re feeling anxious, but being vulnerable and kind is a much better way to make friends and enjoy yourself.
4) Put your phone away.
Now I know you’re gonna fight me on this one, but hear me out. When I’m staring at my phone, I feel safe. Then I have no motivation to push outside my comfort zone. Trust me, I get it, it’s tempting to pretend to text when you’re anxious. But you look unavailable. And we don’t want that, now do we babes? The lez of your dreams could be walking by, willing you to make eye contact with her, but you’re scrolling through Instagram girls promoting Flat Tummy Tea. Not a good look.
5) Smoke A Proverbial Cigarette.
Key word: proverbial. Because smoking is terrible for you! But taking a break from the music and lights to hang with the smokers is a nice way to calm down if your anxiety starts to wild out. Take a breather and strike up a conversation with a babe, one you don’t have to scream over the DJ to have. But don’t stay outside too long: secondhand smoke is terrible for you too!
I love this GIF because it is literally me. Anyway, be sure to hydrate. Dehydration will rile your anxiety up again, usually as soon as you start to let loose ’cause of all those tequila shots. Drink water in between your drinks. If you feel lame drinking water, ask for it in a fancy glass. Or if you’re at a club, all the cups will prob be the same anyway. And no one really cares.
7) Recharge in the bathroom.
Um, yes, I have been the girl massaging my feet on the toilet. No shame, these heels hurt! Close the stall and just take a moment to yourself. Deep breaths. Positive affirmations. And my personal favorite moment, when you pee and smile silently to yourself as you realize: you’re turnt. Then go get some inspo from the amazing drunk gals by the sink! They think your outfit is awesome and are your new BFFs.
8) Bring friends that understand your anxiety.
My friends know by now that I do not like to mingle by myself. We have a perfect balance of being there for each other, as wing women, support, “rescues,” (when you’re dancing with someone you’re not feeling but can’t escape) and when to give each other space. I do not rock with squads that split up. My group of friends always checks in and doesn’t leave without knowing where the rest are!
9) Set goals, give rewards!
If I ask for her number, I can order a pizza later.
If I dance unabashedly, I get to binge watch “The L Word” tomorrow.
If I hit on her, maybe I’ll have sex with her.
10. Have fun!
My best friend taught me the most important thing I’ve ever learned: it’s not that serious. Like, nothing is. Especially nightlife! Life is short. Nothing you do will really matter (okay now the Jenny Schecter in me is coming out, cut the nihilism.) In short, just say f*ck it and go have fun, babe.