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Tuesday, 12 March 2013 03:10

Monkey Balloon Adventure: A Portrait of Social Anxiety

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The Adventure The Adventure
  Hi, I'm a blogger at http://shygirladventurer.blogspot.com/  I am trying to go on a bunch of fun adventures that take me out of my comfort zone to help me overcome my social anxiety. For my ultimate adventure, I will volunteer abroad in Nepal for a couple of months. Check out this ridiculous adventure I decided to go on.

So, I somehow convinced myself that this was going to be a good idea. Everyone reassured me that it was a fine idea when I explained it, so I felt okay about it. Here is a graphic representation of what I envisioned along with a poem that inspired me.


The idea was that I would buy a balloon and give it away. This is how I saw it. A great time, framed by this whimsical poem of spring. I imagined that I would be a little awkward like Cummings' balloon man, but I would make people happy. That's not quite how it went.

First, I went to the party store. I picked out a big monkey balloon. A big monkey balloon. I tied it to a hair band around my wrist. I drove to a store I was not accustomed to. I felt lost as I wandered through the isles looking for someone to give the balloon to. 

I felt like people were staring at me because I was carrying a giant monkey balloon. They were. I knew I should look them in the eye and smile. I think they were grinning at me. But I started feeling self conscious. Where was my inner extrovert when I needed it?! "Square your back, chin up, don't look at the floor," I told myself. And just then I saw a mom with a toddler.

I approached my "prey." I asked the mother if she wanted a balloon. Her eyes widened. She looked flustered. I freaked out."Oh, no. Oh, no. What does she think is wrong with me? Oh, no. Oh crap,"  Uncertainty crept through my spine like seeping, black, fog. That made her feel even less sure. As I drew the balloon toward her, she tensed. Okay, this was stupid. "Well," I said, "he's probably too young"

"Yeah, too young... I was going to say," she responded. I walked off. AGH! Why did I decide to walk around Walmart with a giant monkey balloon? Could I please explain that to myself again? How did this seem like a great idea? I felt like a big, stupid, clown. It was as if the monkey was screaming, "Idiot! Idiot!Idiot!"

I hid in the toy isles and pretended to look at some Batman action figures. I felt a burning in the back of my eyes. Was I going to cry? "Dear Heavenly Father," I prayed, "Please do not let me cry in Walmart while holding a monkey balloon."

I emerged into a clearing of children's clothes. I passed some people who stared at monkey and me. I felt ashamed. I had to get rid of this horrible, smiling, banana munching anathema of evil. A girl of perhaps three or four and her mother were picking out clothes. They had their backs to me. Great, now I had to get their attention.

"Um," I stammered, "excuse me." They turned around. "Um, I was buying balloons for a friend" a partial lie, only a partial lie, "and I had this extra balloon" that was true, "and I'm trying to give it away." She looked slightly confused. "So, um, do you want it?"

Ahh! This awkwardness surpassed Napoleon Dynamite! "Sure," she said politely. Turning to her daughter, "It's your birthday next week anyway, isn't it?" 

The little girl happened to be wearing a monkey hat. "It matches your hat," I said. She smiled as I transferred the burden from my wrist to hers. I felt like Frodo finally dropping the ring into the volcano. I turned to go. "Thank you!" the mom said.

When I got to my car, I felt like the most giant loser on the planet. What had I been thinking? "Stupid,stupid, stupid!" I told myself. I suppose, in feeling these things, I was doing what my therapist, Dr. Headman, tells me I often do. I was figuratively sticking an ice pick into my leg and twisting it all around. I didn't actually do anything wrong. In a sense, it happened a bit like I had imagined, but with minor set backs that I blew out of proportion. I gave a little girl, who obviously loved monkeys, a giant monkey balloon a week before her birthday. 'nough said.

Sometimes, people think that shy people are snobs and that's why they don't interact more. A cool, quirky girl wrote a blog entry that discusses how this is usually not true.

http://www.aquirkygirl.com/2011/03/life-as-shy-girl.html

In the case of people with anxiety, it's not that they don't like people or don't want to have positive interactions with them. It's not that they don't want to make friends. It's that it's hard for them. They may feel foolish, as if they're carrying around a giant monkey balloon and are inevitably going to elicit rejection.

Until my next awkward adventure,

Namaste (bye in Napalese)

Last modified on Friday, 15 March 2013 00:30

22 comments

  • Comment Link thefutureofsocialwork Sunday, 16 June 2013 03:54 posted by thefutureofsocialwork

    Cute story!

  • Comment Link valorieb Monday, 08 April 2013 01:17 posted by valorieb

    I would say, yeah. It's their problem. Reacting poorly to you is simply rude. You deserve better and there are plenty of people that will give you better. I would also keep in mind that, like me, you may have a habit of filtering out the positive feedback of others, thus feeling like people only think negative things about you. It's not true. Let them think what they want. But honestly, it's probably not all bad. Most people have respect for people with disabilities trying to put themselves out there and make it in the world. If they don't, they are simply dumb in that respect. But it doesn't make YOU dumb. Anyway,there's my two cents.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:50 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    I noticed that everytime I send a message. It appears on the wall twice. Now I think I know why as I press it more than once just to be sure it is being submitted. I will just press this once and see if that is what it was about. Thanks for your patience!

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:46 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    Ok, I am still learning about this system. I can share my experience with others on DIary right? I thought at first it was to used to only for me to see my own progresses but I see that other's diary is shown to the rest of us. I am trying to actually focus on how it works now. But, will do more so later. I am not particularly patient when it comes to learning how things work. I get a little anxiety about it and then I give up and do other things instead. It is almost as if I feel like I am wasting my time on it. Oh the sweet joys of dealing with an anxious mind! Lol.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:45 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    Ok, I am still learning about this system. I can share my experience with others on DIary right? I thought at first it was to used to only for me to see my own progresses but I see that other's diary is shown to the rest of us. I am trying to actually focus on how it works now. But, will do more so later. I am not particularly patient when it comes to learning how things work. I get a little anxiety about it and then I give up and do other things instead. It is almost as if I feel like I am wasting my time on it. Oh the sweet joys of dealing with an anxious mind! Lol.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:34 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    Yes, thank you.. I guess I can't retrieve that message back that went thru the report section. And, sure, please do let me know if your goal in making that film is realized. That would be really lovely. I would like to share more about my social anxiety strange ways and how that might have come to me from my upbringing. But, I also feel it is partly genetic too as it does run in my family. But, theirs are a different kind than mine but somewhat related to mine.Know what I am saying? Part of it is that I am really aware about how other people feel not necessarily about me but just them as people. But, what I need to learn is that whatever I see how they feel about me is really their problem not mine. I let it get to me then I get paranoid or don't know how to deal with their negative reactions to me. Anyway I will later give out some more examples of what I mean. I always laugh when others express the same problems as me as it feels good that I am not the only 'crazy' one, haha. I mean it is not funny to have those problems but I have to laugh about it sometimes. Everytime I go out of my house, I feel like I put on some sort of shield or try to act as normally or the way everyone does. It is almost like a gun is pointed at me threatening me that it would shoot me if I don't act in a certain way in public. It is a very strange way of thinking. I find I try hard not to show my shyness or nervousness to anyone as I don't want them to think of me in any other way. Well, I am getting a little carried away now but I would like to add more of my experiences later as i have things to do today and would so love to hear anyone's similar experiences and how they have tackled it. That would so sweetly awesome!!

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:34 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    Yes, thank you.. I guess I can't retrieve that message back that went thru the report section. And, sure, please do let me know if your goal in making that film is realized. That would be really lovely. I would like to share more about my social anxiety strange ways and how that might have come to me from my upbringing. But, I also feel it is partly genetic too as it does run in my family. But, theirs are a different kind than mine but somewhat related to mine.Know what I am saying? Part of it is that I am really aware about how other people feel not necessarily about me but just them as people. But, what I need to learn is that whatever I see how they feel about me is really their problem not mine. I let it get to me then I get paranoid or don't know how to deal with their negative reactions to me. Anyway I will later give out some more examples of what I mean. I always laugh when others express the same problems as me as it feels good that I am not the only 'crazy' one, haha. I mean it is not funny to have those problems but I have to laugh about it sometimes. Everytime I go out of my house, I feel like I put on some sort of shield or try to act as normally or the way everyone does. It is almost like a gun is pointed at me threatening me that it would shoot me if I don't act in a certain way in public. It is a very strange way of thinking. I find I try hard not to show my shyness or nervousness to anyone as I don't want them to think of me in any other way. Well, I am getting a little carried away now but I would like to add more of my experiences later as i have things to do today and would so love to hear anyone's similar experiences and how they have tackled it. That would so sweetly awesome!!

  • Comment Link valorieb Friday, 05 April 2013 12:44 posted by valorieb

    Oops. I hate it when stuff like that happens. Yeah, I will let you know when I get the video done (if my brother is able to come home for the summer). Maybe I'll post a link for you if we put it on Youtube. I'd be interested to hear about your issues anytime. I like to see how other people experience anxiety. It is a bit different from person to person.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Thursday, 04 April 2013 06:33 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    I am awkward with this whole new system.I just typed out a long message bout my issues but it was in the report part. I couldn't find the comment which I just did now after I submitted the report. No idea where it went . Probably it is all gone. Now I know better for next time. I am not computer saavy. I spent a good amount of time typing it all out. Oh, well, I will just try it again on another day. Just before I am to go to bed, thanks so much for the relaxation tips which I will try to apply for social situations and also, I am sorry to say that I do ASL only not BSL. But, the idea of filming about it in ASL is an awesome idea.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Thursday, 04 April 2013 06:33 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    I am awkward with this whole new system.I just typed out a long message bout my issues but it was in the report part. I couldn't find the comment which I just did now after I submitted the report. No idea where it went . Probably it is all gone. Now I know better for next time. I am not computer saavy. I spent a good amount of time typing it all out. Oh, well, I will just try it again on another day. Just before I am to go to bed, thanks so much for the relaxation tips which I will try to apply for social situations and also, I am sorry to say that I do ASL only not BSL. But, the idea of filming about it in ASL is an awesome idea.

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