Follow Us

Advertisement

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 03:10

Monkey Balloon Adventure: A Portrait of Social Anxiety

Rate this item
(5 votes)
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 valorieb Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:44 posted by valorieb

    By the way, Julliette, I think you just inspired me to make a relaxation film in ASL. I have a deaf friend and a brother who is studying film. So, thanks.

  • Comment Link valorieb Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:36 posted by valorieb

    Here is a relaxation DVD I found for those that are deaf. I don't know what kind of sign language you do, but this is in British sign language. Unfortunately, you have to order and pay for it.

    http://www.eyegaze.tv/health/

  • Comment Link valorieb Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:35 posted by valorieb

    Here is a relaxation DVD I found for those that are deaf. I don't know what kind of sign language you do, but this is in British sign language. Unfortunately, you have to order and pay for it.

    http://www.eyegaze.tv/health/

  • Comment Link valorieb Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:30 posted by valorieb

    And uh...since you said you are deaf the mp3s obviously might not work for you :P Sorry about that

  • Comment Link valorieb Wednesday, 03 April 2013 04:21 posted by valorieb

    Juliette, I have felt similar feelings to the ones you describe. It rips your heart out too because you know you should be close to these people. I actually felt social anxiety toward seeing my own brother after he had been gone for some years. It made me so sad at first. To my sister-in-laws as well. I understand how it is. It's not that you don't like them. It's just hard. It's painful because you don't want to be so distant from everyone. I would suggest going to family events and focus, not on socializing, but on relaxing and feeling at ease. You will make more progress if you face your fears. That's the kind of thing my therapist has been telling me, anyway. When a social situation seems like too much for me, I focus on my breathing and relaxing my muscles and not trying to be perfect at socializing. If you google relaxation mp3s you can practice these things at home, so you can more easily do them in tense situations. Consider it a challenge to feel relaxed among "peril" rather than a situation where you have to do everything perfectly. That's what I've been trying and it works way better for me than simply freaking out. My therapist also has explained that you really don't have to apologize for your existence (I have this habit of saying sorry after everything). You have a right to what you think just as much as the next person. Just be who you are and let the other person deal with it. How they deal with it is completely up to them and has nothing to do with you. Also, I had negative feedback from my peers at a young age. So, I still find the need to isolate myself because that is what protected me growing up. It's as if there was a cage around me, and now that it's gone I still act like it's there. Other people are not your parents. That cage that your parents put you in is no longer there. It just feels like it is. You are a good person and you don't need to feel ashamed of who you are. Most people will try to respect you. These are some of the things that I have been learning for myself. So, if any of it works for you too, great. Thanks for your comment :)

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Tuesday, 02 April 2013 23:02 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    This is my first time joining in this group and my first reading on any of the write up. I must admit laughed quite a bit at what you were experiencing because I understand exactly what you are going thu as I too have those similar feelings. It is always nice to hear others going thru the very same things as you do. I do tend to avoid a lot of things especially with certain people. Just recently I had two family visits from my husband side of the family. Their dynamics is very different from mine and I don't quite know how to communicate with them.And, I try hard to say things that they would want to hear. It is like I am always trying to make other people happy like agreeing to whatever they say. I have real trouble expressing my own opinions to anyone as they might get offended. But, since I have grown older, my social anxiety definitely has decreased as I am trying more and more to face situations that I would normally avoid. Since my hub's family that just came, I was thinking in my head that if there another wedding there or some special occasion I planned on not going there as it is just too hard to be around them constantly for like two or three days straight. But, of course, while I am thinking those thoughts, it does feel right at the same time. The idea of not attending is appealing and yet it is not a good feeling not to attend due to because of my damn problem. I have a question about for some of you. Due to my upbringing, my parents are very judgemental towards other people and do not accept differences of opinions very well. Everytime when I try to express an opinion, I would get criticisms not only from parents but also, from my older silbings (I am the youngest). My family is very oppressive in that way. I really can't communicate with my parents really about anything. It has look like that all is good and fine on the surface.Anyway, it would be cool to hear of any feedbacks from anyone.Forgive my english as i have been deaf since birth.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Tuesday, 02 April 2013 23:01 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    This is my first time joining in this group and my first reading on any of the write up. I must admit laughed quite a bit at what you were experiencing because I understand exactly what you are going thu as I too have those similar feelings. It is always nice to hear others going thru the very same things as you do. I do tend to avoid a lot of things especially with certain people. Just recently I had two family visits from my husband side of the family. Their dynamics is very different from mine and I don't quite know how to communicate with them.And, I try hard to say things that they would want to hear. It is like I am always trying to make other people happy like agreeing to whatever they say. I have real trouble expressing my own opinions to anyone as they might get offended. But, since I have grown older, my social anxiety definitely has decreased as I am trying more and more to face situations that I would normally avoid. Since my hub's family that just came, I was thinking in my head that if there another wedding there or some special occasion I planned on not going there as it is just too hard to be around them constantly for like two or three days straight. But, of course, while I am thinking those thoughts, it does feel right at the same time. The idea of not attending is appealing and yet it is not a good feeling not to attend due to because of my damn problem. I have a question about for some of you. Due to my upbringing, my parents are very judgemental towards other people and do not accept differences of opinions very well. Everytime when I try to express an opinion, I would get criticisms not only from parents but also, from my older silbings (I am the youngest). My family is very oppressive in that way. I really can't communicate with my parents really about anything. It has look like that all is good and fine on the surface.Anyway, it would be cool to hear of any feedbacks from anyone.Forgive my english as i have been deaf since birth.

  • Comment Link Juliette Piffy Geidt Tuesday, 02 April 2013 23:01 posted by Juliette Piffy Geidt

    This is my first time joining in this group and my first reading on any of the write up. I must admit laughed quite a bit at what you were experiencing because I understand exactly what you are going thu as I too have those similar feelings. It is always nice to hear others going thru the very same things as you do. I do tend to avoid a lot of things especially with certain people. Just recently I had two family visits from my husband side of the family. Their dynamics is very different from mine and I don't quite know how to communicate with them.And, I try hard to say things that they would want to hear. It is like I am always trying to make other people happy like agreeing to whatever they say. I have real trouble expressing my own opinions to anyone as they might get offended. But, since I have grown older, my social anxiety definitely has decreased as I am trying more and more to face situations that I would normally avoid. Since my hub's family that just came, I was thinking in my head that if there another wedding there or some special occasion I planned on not going there as it is just too hard to be around them constantly for like two or three days straight. But, of course, while I am thinking those thoughts, it does feel right at the same time. The idea of not attending is appealing and yet it is not a good feeling not to attend due to because of my damn problem. I have a question about for some of you. Due to my upbringing, my parents are very judgemental towards other people and do not accept differences of opinions very well. Everytime when I try to express an opinion, I would get criticisms not only from parents but also, from my older silbings (I am the youngest). My family is very oppressive in that way. I really can't communicate with my parents really about anything. It has look like that all is good and fine on the surface.Anyway, it would be cool to hear of any feedbacks from anyone.Forgive my english as i have been deaf since birth.

  • Comment Link valorieb Saturday, 16 March 2013 22:18 posted by valorieb

    Thank you, Jessica. That is very kind of you!

  • Comment Link Jessica Claire Saturday, 16 March 2013 21:08 posted by Jessica Claire

    Hi! Really loved this write up, I'll be so keen to see how you go. Keep up the great work!

Login to post comments

Support Us By Shoping at Amazon

JOIN SOCIAL NETWORK

we are a community of people struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone!

JOIN ASN NOW

Support us By Shoping at Amazon

JOIN ANXIETY SOCIAL NET TODAY

We are a community of people struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone!

JOIN ASN NOW

 

 

featured