When You Feel Obligated to Attend Holiday Parties but Struggle With Social Anxiety

I recently started a new job. I went from working with a team of mostly men and older women to working with a group of about 10 young women.

As someone who struggles with all kinds of anxieties including pretty severe social anxiety, this job feels like going back to high school. Coupled with the fact that I’m learning a job I have no real experience with, it’s been an overwhelming time for me.

With Christmas approaching, I’ve been invited to work parties that I, at first, felt obligated to go to. Who cares if I’m tired, my medication gives me a headache and all I want to do after work is go to bed? If I don’t go, everyone will think I’m rude and antisocial, won’t they?

That’s been my thought process for weeks now as I tried to come up with excuse after excuse, too shy to tell them the honest truth, that I was simply tired and uninterested. That is, until yesterday when my manager asked me if I was coming and I simply said no.

No, I don’t want to come, but thank you for inviting me. And that was that. All the anxiety and stress I’d been subjecting myself to since I started — and that’s all I had to say.

For someone who spent a lot of her life wanting to be accepted, turning down social invitations seems taboo to me, but the reality Is that the holidays don’t need to be so stressful. It’s OK to just stay home.

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