I am a hermit who is battling social anxiety, everyone who knows me personally knows that. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I really love to write. So few weeks ago when I got a Facebook notification that there was a writing workshop in town I got excited and signed up to attend but later the nerves started to set in. I would have to actually leave the house and interact with people, scary! I almost flaked a million times but my husband strongly insisted that I get out of the house and go. He even canceled a work meeting just so he could stay home with the kids.

So, I put on my blackest, most inconspicuous clothes and went on my way. I thought maybe I could blend in with the background and no one would call on me to introduce myself. So I arrive at the college where the workshop was being held. Of course I get lost inside, I have the worse sense of direction and of course I don’t ask anyone for directions because I didn’t want to look like a dunce. So I just wander around and finally see a girl that looks like the one who scheduled the workshop going inside of a classroom and follow her inside.

Inside I say a general hello to the group of about ten and pick a seat on the row with the least amount of people in it and eavesdrop on the conversation that a few people were having. God, being an introvert sucks. Anyway, the workshop conductor, let’s call her Lisa, begins as a few more people walk in and get situated. She begins by telling us to put the photos we brought on the table in groups by category. Then she says the most horrifying thing an awkward introvert could ever hear. “Ok everyone, let’s take turns introducing ourselves.” I could feel the sweat pooling underneath my pits.

The first person stands up to introduce himself. Ah shit. The second person stands up. Fuck! Everyone stand to introduce themselves so obviously I have to do the same. Why were these people trying to ruin my life?! All I wanted was to sit there and ball my fists together tightly and attempt normality but no, let’s everyone stand and talk. Ok fine. My turn comes and I stand and blurt out, “Hi, I’m Nadia and I write for a hobby.” and quickly sit down. Shitshitshit! “For a hobby?!” I should have said AS a hobby! So yeah…I’m pretty sure everyone realized then that I’m a shitty writer because I can’t even speak properly. So I just sit there and obsess while I listen to everyone else’s perfect introductions.

Afterwards Lisa tells us all to stand up and do some stretches because a relaxed body is a relaxed mind…or something like that. I awkwardly and halfheartedly do the stretches. Next Lisa tells us all to go and get two photographs of the people, two of the objects and one of the locations. We all clumsily climb over each other and return to our seats. I noticed then that the class is completely packed and some people are sitting on the floor. The girl sitting next to me, Farrah (not her real name) kicks off her shoes, digs around in her bad and throws a couple of aluminum foil wrapped sandwiches on the desk. She asks if anyone wants one, I do but I say nothing. I just stare at her from the corner of my eye wishing that I could be so cool and open with everyone.

The main exercise for the workshop was basically to write about the people, places and things in the photographs.  My pen flew across the paper and I wrote whatever came to mind. For the most part I was just dicking around because It had been so long since I’d done free-writing without a plan. I’ll link what I wrote [here].

When the time was up Lisa asked if anyone wanted to share what they had written. The first was a middle-aged English professor. She said even though she was an English professor she didn’t really have a talent for writing. As I was listening to her read her work I looked down at my own paper and inwardly cursed myself for not taking my writing seriously because her work was incredibly brilliant. The next volunteer read their work, brilliant. The next, brilliant. The next, bone chilling and brilliant! Godfuckingdammit! I was in a room full of genuine, raw talent and felt like crawling in a hole and dying, just me and my inadequacy.

“Anyone else?”, Lisa asked as I shrunk down in my seat  and adjusted my glasses pretending not to hear her. No one else volunteered. As she closed the lesson she mentioned that she a few others were going to a nearby bar to hang out and talk a while and that anyone interested could join. I really wanted to but I told myself that i needed to hurry back home to the husband and kids. Really I just felt a bit shy and awkward so I just packed up my stuff and left without saying goodbye to anyone. I see how that came off rude especially since I didn’t even thank Lisa. I wish I had gone out with them now. Social anxiety really does suck.

I’m trying my best to overcome it though. I’ve been speaking more to the other parents at the kid’s school. Just small talk, I really hate small talk but baby steps, right? I’m even considering holding my own creative writing workshop. I guess it makes me feel a little better when I’m in charge of the situation. I think I can make this work and I’m super excited about it!