Writing is a solitary pursuit. Unless collaborating on a project, writing is just done alone. People can be all around, but the writer is alone. Some may become bothered by such propositions, but not me. In fact, the very notion of it is enticing even more than the craft alone. Being alone sounds nice to someone with social anxiety. Really nice.
But it can really suck too.
An example: my wife tags me in a comment about an event that she wanted to go to. My initial reaction ended up being a sudden flood of anxiety just at the idea of going. Here I haven’t even truly considered the idea; just the thought of going to a social event raises my anxiety.
Before that, we went to see The Barenaked Ladies. I happen to love that band. I was excited to take my son to see them. That didn’t stop the swell of anxiety I felt all the way up towards the first song playing.
It’s odd being a part of a social species, but yet being so afraid of being social. I feel broken, yearning to be a part of a group but running in fear at each opportunity. As people pressure me to “just be more social,” I find instead an increasing resentment. As if it were just easy to do. I am sure that people like me just seem like fun-suckers, unable to let loose and have a good time. It’s not that. Trust me. I am often filled with a desire to let loose, to go out and have a good time. Anxiety and the desire to be alone are greater. It’s the anxiety that wins of course. And letting loose means more anxiety, so there can be none of that.
There’s a much larger problem with it that hurts me even more than I’d like: my writing. Well, the writing itself to a lesser degree. It’s more the ancillary aspects of being a writer, like marketing and selling my books. I can only expect to be successful at either if and only if I put myself out there to interact with my readership… or potential readership. If I keep being too afraid, I lose, anxiety or no.
Again… easier said.
If I think about it, is it social anxiety that helps in some way to drive some of us to write? Many writers complain that they would rather only write, not going through the efforts of marketing and sales. I hesitate to cry out causation, but one has to acknowledge the possible correlation.
If I do want this whole writing thing to work though, I have to find better ways to deal with it. But overcoming anxiety can be tricky.
Just getting out there more often ends up with awkward comments, behaviors, etc put out there by me, only furthering the justification of my anxiety. Do the opposite and become a shadow, ignored (or at least I perceive it that way) and outside of the social circle.
In either case, it’s going to be a long, hard road ahead.