Talking to monsters

Please don’t ask how many times I socialised last year, because I’m ashamed to admit that it’s a single-digit number. Having moved from Auckland to Wellington, I said au revoir to all of my friends and was back to square one. Suffice to say that I haven’t made an effort: since moving to another city, I’ve made zero friends and skipped most social events.

Letting go of opportunities to socialise is understandable, but less so when you decide to let go of all of them. I could list down the reasons why I decided to skip out, but it all boiled down to anxiety. I expected the worst in every scenario. What if I say something stupid, or if I’m too boring? What if I can’t understand the banter amongst strangers? I had zero confidence in my self; if anything, I was confident that I was going to blow it.

By the last quarter of 2019, I had given up. I was trapped in my own thoughts. I turned my focus to saving money for my trip to the Philippines, because surely, socialising in my homeland would be easier.

I’m having none of the excuses this year. I’m so tired of running away and curling back into the comfortable. Something needs to be done, even if I’m reluctant to do so.

The first plan of action is to join a club. It’s easy enough to join one, as there are tons publicised online. It was through one of these platforms – Meetup – that I found out about Toastmasters, a group dedicated to public speaking, leadership, and confidence-building. It sounds like a good place to start.

With excitement and a hint of reluctance, I went to my first session. Thoughts dominated my head while making the journey there: what if I’m asked to speak to an audience or to deliver an impromptu speech? Perhaps I’ll stutter or emit a nervous energy. Won’t they think I’m boring?

Thankfully, everything was alright. I was not forced to do anything, rather the members allowed me to sit through the whole session and learn about what they do. Everyone was friendly, and the space we occupied felt safe. The monsters in my head dissipated. My first social event for the year wasn’t bad; in fact, it was rejuvenating. It felt good being around people again.

Every day, I have to remind myself that the monsters in my head are just that: monsters. The anxiety, fear, worst-case scenarios: they are not real. They are born with the sole purpose of messing with my head, and they will be there to constantly challenge me. What is life if I always cower in fear of monsters?

So far, the grand total of the times I socialised in Wellington is two. It’s less than I expected, but I’m not ashamed. After all, it’s, more or less, already the same number as last year’s.

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