So I actually managed to go along to the SA meet on Saturday despite my intense anxiety the night before. Overall, it went a lot better than I thought it would. I surprised myself and actually managed to say quite a lot (for me), though I felt that I was talking too much about myself. There were 5 of us altogether – 2 people didn’t turn up (which I imagine is very common with SA meets). I was shaking (probably as much due to the freezing temperature as anxiety) when I first had to approach and say hi to the people who were already there, but I felt more calm after a while. I managed to talk quite a lot to the woman who organised the group – though it was still quite awkward. One thing that makes trying to have a conversation with another person who has SA very difficult is that we tend to speak very quietly and/or mumble a bit when we speak. So you’re regularly having to repeat yourself or ask the other person to repeat themselves, which can be quite anxiety-provoking. Still, it was nice to actually be able to talk to people in my age group who face the same problems as I do.
I felt quite guilty that I didn’t manage to actually speak face to face with the woman who I’d talked to through facebook before. I was worried that I’d come across as rude, but she later assured me (again through facebook) that I hadn’t. She suffers from selective mutism, and I can’t really start conversations with people, so it would very difficult for either of us to make the first move in talking to each other. I did manage to speak to everyone else there though, as they always started the conversation with me. I even managed to speak to both of the men (I’m especially anxious/ wary around men) at the meet after unsuccessfully trying to avoid doing so. I’d been worried about not knowing what to say, but we just talked about our experiences with social anxiety disorder, and what we were studying at university, etc. It embarrassed me a bit to admit that I don’t have any friends though. Even with SA, it seems that everyone else who was there still has at least a couple of friends. I don’t know if they thought I was strange because of that… The two guys asked why I don’t just join a university society or club or something, but I don’t even feel able to do that (at least not yet).
I’ve had a few negative thoughts about it ( probably just due to over thinking things), but it was a very positive experience overall and I’m very glad that I went. The organiser has arranged another meet in a couple of weeks, and I’ve signed up for that one as well. Hopefully if everything goes well and the organiser keeps arranging meets, I’ll have an understanding group of people who I can socialise with every couple of weeks or so, which would be great.