Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder that is much more than just being shy. It’s an intense fear that when you are in a social situation, you will be judged, humiliated, or embarrassed, which makes life so easy… not.
February was full of pride events, and even throughout the year, there are many. However, for someone with social anxiety, they can be daunting, even the smaller-scale events. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are in a similar situation as me, and I want to share some of the things that may or may not help you get into the pride spirit – these are what helped to get me to the Big Gay Out back in February!
Go with a friend (or friends)
Big crowds aren’t our friends. They can be overwhelming. There is going to be a lot of people at Pride, a lot of noise. Find some friends who will go with there, who can help put you at ease, who can make it seem less scary than your mind makes it out to be. My friend, Rose, went to BGO, so I felt more at ease. I also saw some other friendly, familiar faces.
Find ways to meet new people
As an attachment to “go with a friend” – and I know it isn’t easy – but maybe try to connect with some new people, make some new friends. Look on Instagram – I’d looked at mutual followers. It’s great to see even more familiar faces there. Maybe create a Bumble BFF account and see if you can match with people there.
Ease yourself into it
In the lead-up to Pride, try to find smaller-scale events to attend – still a bit daunting, I know, but in my experience, easing into things has helped me, such in the case of dating, and it may just be a thing that works for you too. And like the above, go with friends.
Take breaks to recharge
Being at events around lots of people itself is going to drain a whole lot of your energy. During the event, try to step away for a bit, give yourself a breather, a little break from it all. Especially if you’re an introvert, you need some time to yourself to recharge before you can go back out there. I always look for somewhere to have some time to myself, unwind for a little bit, and then I’m good to go (and then, after the event, I need to spend a lot of quality time with just my company!).
To challenge that negative self-talk, you might think that something bad will happen, but know that there are measures in place to keep you and everyone else safe at Pride events. I remember the BGO had people to make sure the event was safe for everyone. And, like I said, having a friend there, and people you know, will help make you feel safer and more comfortable.
It’s a relatable feeling, wanting to celebrate your individuality, the progress we’ve made as a community, yet being anxious at going to a large event. It’s okay if you decide to miss a certain event and wait to go to the next one. Perhaps you can make it your goal: go to a pride event and work towards getting yourself more comfortable at going.