Fight Or Flight

Fight Or Flight

How I'm fighting my social anxiety.

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It is, thankfully, my spring break this week. And, again, thankfully, I did not have to stay home and stare at the walls in my bedroom wishing there was something to do other than watch an unhealthy amount of Netflix or get a head start on all the papers and assignments I know will be due when we I get back to school.

Instead, I’m in Phoenix, Ariz., with family. I’m looking forward to a week of fun- shopping, reading, a spring training baseball game, and just spending time with family I don’t get to see very often.

In order to get here, though, I had to fly on a plane by myself. Now, I’ve flown on planes many, many times, but I’ve always flown with my parents.

The week leading up to the flight I was pretty nervous, not because I thought anything technical with the flight would go wrong, but because I didn’t want to have to talk to anyone at the airport or on the plane.

You see, I have issues with talking to people I don’t know. It stresses me out for a couple of reasons: I never know what to say, and I’m afraid I’ll say or do something awkward. My people issues can lead to problems at school when I actually do want to talk to someone and become friends or when I need to make calls and meet with someone for an interview for the paper I work for. (I always have to give myself long pep talks before I do the latter.)

I realize that as a nearly 21-year-old college girl, I need to try to get over this issue. I figured flying by myself for the first time, going through security, finding my gate, and *gasp*-- sitting by people and maybe talking to them- would be a good first attempt at becoming more comfortable around people I don’t know.

I originally planned on putting my earphones in and listening to music the minute I got through security so no one would say a word to me, but I decided that was not going to help me get over my people fear.

As I waited for my plane to arrive and the other passengers to deplane, I read a book ("Intensity" by Dean Koontz- it’s wonderfully creepy). Two ladies came up to me and asked if they could sit by me. I told them they could. And guess what? It wasn’t horrible. They didn’t say much to me, and I didn’t say much to them, but they were nice and they smiled at me. That little interaction made me feel better.

When I boarded the plane, I actually made eye contact with the flight attendants and told them hi, which is something I would typically avoid.

These two small breakthroughs didn’t keep me from finding an empty row of seats on the plane, though. I made sure I had a window seat because I like to look at the land beneath the plane (it’s amazing how small everything is when you look at in from the sky) and being stuck between two people I don’t know would just be too much.

A woman who was probably in her fifties ended up sitting next to me, and she wasn’t too bad, either. We said little to each other, but what we did say was friendly and not awkward, which was great. Also, I did not put my earphones in and listen to music until about halfway through the flight, and I didn’t do it just to ignore the woman sitting next to me. I just needed some Paramore.

So anyway, if I can get on a plane and make an effort to talk to people and it turns out okay, then other people who have slight panic attacks every time they think about interacting with people will be OK, too, if they get past their fears.

Of course, I may totally change my mind when I fly back to St. Louis from Phoenix.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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