I’ve always had a hard time at parties. My social anxiety disorder would have me worrying for days before the party. When I got there, I’d put on a happy face and try to say all the right things. Then, I’d go home and collapse, exhausted from days of energy building up and emptying.
This Halloween, I went to a party with my wife and son. A dozen or so other families showed up and the house was decked out in fake corpses, zombies, and the occasional jump-scare contraption. It was an impressive setup the host was well-known for.
At the party was a teenage girl, sitting alone in a corner. She was the only one not wearing a costume and she was reading. She came to the party with her mom, who explained to me that she was afraid of social gatherings, so she had opted out of being social at this gathering.
It seemed that the outside world did not exist to her. She was going to read unapologetically and none of that party was get between her and those words. She was not nervous. She was focused and engaged, just not on the party.
In that moment, she became my hero.
I wish I had the guts to pull that off as a teenager. That’s real rebellion. That’s real non-conformity.
So here’s the practical takeaway I learned: engross yourself in books whenever you get the opportunity. Get lost in the story and your anxiety vanishes.