An Open Letter to My Social Anxiety:
I met you when I was nine, fresh off the boat from Jamaica. I had known your cousin anxiety all my life, but you were new to me. Soon, we became fast friends. It was subtle, the way our friendship grew. At the time, I had thought the reason my sunny disposition had turned cloudy and grey was just my way of adjusting to a new culture. I blamed the U.S. for the fact that I could no longer make friends.
I didn’t notice how I was shrinking away from people so you could occupy the space between me and them. I didn’t notice that telling myself I was an introvert was only an excuse to spend more time with you. I didn’t notice that the books I hid myself behind were a barricade trapping you and I inside.
The more time I spent with you, the more comfortable I got with your abuse and lies.
There were days where you would swallow my voice by convincing me that no one wanted to listen. I had so much to say, I always have, but slowly and surely you made me forget my words.
Ordinary things that people did in day to day life became so hard for me with you around. Every time the phone would ring it sounded like a warning bell telling me to run and hide. Every person I met on the streets you made out to be a judge, always pointing and laughing at me. Every social interaction felt like a dance, only I didn’t know any of the right moves.
Recently, you and I haven’t been seeing eye to eye. I think the distance between us began to grow last summer when I got on a plane and flew to Italy all by myself. You must have been mad that I came back a whole new person.
After that, our friendship was on the rocks. You don’t know this but all the things that you had told me that I should be afraid of, I had done them all in Italy. If they weren’t scary in a foreign country, why should they be scary here at home?
For you, this summer must have been the last straw. I am taking an Introduction to Marketing class and I know it must be your worst nightmare. Just this morning I sat down for a phone conference with the Director of Franchise Marketing for the UFC Gym Corporation to ask questions for a class project.
Me! The girl you told no one wanted to hear her voice. The girl you told she would never make it anywhere in life, because people would never want to talk to her.
Getting on the phone this morning was my way of kicking you out of my life for good. I’m writing this letter to say I won’t miss you at all. With you around, it always felt like the world was out to get me. And now, with you gone, my life is open to so many more possibilities.