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What Happens When My Social Anxiety Comes to Lunch With Me

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It doesn’t just have to be a school day. It’s every day. Wake up, check to make sure my social media account isn’t flooded with hate, obsess over lost followers and then plan my day. I plan it strategically so I don’t run into anyone I know.

While en route to the nearest Chick-fil-A, I run over all the possible scenarios and what I can do if they happen. I arrive, open the car door, scan the windows to look for familiar faces and rehearse my order at least 10 times in my head.

While waiting in line, I repeat my order to myself over and over again. It doesn’t help. Once I’m at the front, I start off really well.

“Hi. I’d like a plain chicken sandwich and a water.”

“Would you like fries with that?”

Oh no. He didn’t say that when I rehearsed it in my head. What do I do? If I turn down fries, will I offend him? Crap, I’m staring at him. Oh no. Do you think he notices my awkward stare?

“Um… yeah sure… fries are good.”

“OK! Enjoy your meal.”

“Thanks, you too.”

Crap. He’s not eating. Why did I say that? This is why I don’t go off script.

I look for the booth furthest away from people and sink down into it. Crossing my fingers that no one I know gets a craving for a milkshake or some chicken.

To my horror, a group of kids from school come in. What do I do? My dad senses my panic. Be calm, he says. Just act natural, he says.

As soon as they turn around, I go rogue. One second the bag is on the table, next it’s on my head. It ripped on the way down my face. Not only did my disguise not work, but I now have a bag on my head. They spot me. While they are on their way over, I try to pull myself together.

The girl says, “Hey Vicky. How are you?“

“Good, how are you?” I reply.

The girl leaves. I don’t even know why I freaked out. She’s super nice and we’ve have talked a ton of times. My sandwich seems to eat itself. I can’t wait to leave. I finally get up to go, and there is someone I know throwing trash away. Naturally, I wait until they leave. Mid-dash to the door, I look back and see my family still at the table. The only solution is to hide outside until they finish eating. So I wait. And I pray I don’t run into anyone else I know. My prayers are answered. Before I know it, I’m home. Lucky for me, I get to spend the rest of the day replying the bag incident in my mind. And that wasn’t even a school day…

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Thinkstock photo via malija.

Originally published: August 15, 2017
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