Learning to Say No, with a Dash of Social Anxiety

BlogHer Original Post

I've never really thought of myself as someone who can't say no. I mean, I rarely feel pressured to do something I don't want to do. But it's only taken 7 days of January 2010 for me to realize that I'm actually learning to say no to myself. Because I need to go out less, and I need to focus. On something. But clearly, not everything.

Seriously, I should be counting the number of invitations I've already declined this year, because it's absurd. And it's not getting any easier. (OK, I realized at my 20-year high school reunion that sentences like this can sound totally douchy, but I promise you if you move to Los Angeles and are an extroverted person with lots of interests, you, too, can have this problem within mere months.) I looked at my calendar from last January, and it is totally stark raving insane how much running around I did last year. And I love it, but not right now.

Let's back up to when I started saying no. The break-up. Hit me hard. I crawled into my shell in November and December, only spending time with close friends.

But! Now it is a New Year! And I'm fairly over the break-up. No, that's not true. I'm over the break-up, in terms of how I feel about him and moving on. I'm moving on.

And yet. I find that I like it in my shell. And the invitations come in, and I see their shiny, and I still say no. But then, I fight with myself about it. I want to go out and I want to go to things and I see that I need to pull back, but sometimes it's so difficult. Awesome screenings and meetings with friends and new friends and parties and, and, and...

Enter what has to be the oddest form of self-protection any body has ever pulled on its extroverted, fun-loving owner. It started in November, but it's still here: social anxiety. It's like, my body finally realized that I keep going and going and going. I wasn't saying no, so now I find my body is sometimes saying no for me, in the form of complete discomfort in large social situations. The break-up seems to have triggered it, but that worry is gone and yet my new-found introversion remains.

It's the weirdest thing for me right now. Saying no. Being a different person. I think it's good, and I think I'm moving in new directions that will good for me, but, I don't know. It's really uncomfortable and disconcerting at times.

I want to find love, but I'm not socializing or dating. I don't want to be in a relationship right now, but I do feel like I want romantic companionship at times. I don't know how to reconcile these things. I don't know why I'm drawn to make these changes and pull back, and I certainly have no idea what's coming next.

But I guess this time in my life is about making changes and being ready for whatever comes my way. Whatever it turns out to be.


Linky Goodness:

15 Graceful Ways to Say “No” - from Sara at On Simplicity. I totally printed these out and read them all out loud for practice.

How to Let Go of Someone You Love – No Relationship Closure - from Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen on Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals. Love that one of her tips is "explore a different lifestyle." Check.

How I Ended My Relationship with Coffee - from Think Simple Now. I'm certainly not planning on giving up coffee, but I was impressed by the method for change described in this post.


Contributing editor Liz Rizzo also blogs at Everyday Goddess.


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