Sad Art by Atkinson

I'm not a big fan of parties.

I’d much rather be at home watching movies or reading a book with my dogs and blanket. My parents always wondered why I don’t go out very much, and the reason is I just feel better at home than when I hang out with other people. When I do go out in public, even for a few hours, I feel exhausted afterward because I put so much energy into making sure I don’t say the wrong thing or do something embarrassing, like trip over my own feet. 

Not a lot of people know how difficult it can be to constantly feel anxious around other people. Sometimes being home is just easier, and that’s OK.  

So instead of venturing out to a party, I enter fictional worlds like Hogwarts, Narnia or the Marvel universe. These worlds and characters help me feel like I have somewhere to go that doesn’t judge me or require a lot of energy from me in order to participate. These worlds and characters have also inspired me to be a more creative person. The lore and characters of these fantasy lands have inspired me to do art, make videos and even meet other creatives through social media. 

Do I wish I could be as social as other people? Of course. But that’s not how I’m built. People need to understand that it’s not that I don’t want to go out, I don’t have the mental energy to be present for hours at a time. I also don’t want to constantly worry about how my actions will embarrass me.

Mixing conversation with catastrophizing drains my brain battery pretty quickly. So instead of feeling burned out, it’s just easier to stay home most of the time. I do this because I’d rather spend my energy being productive on important tasks, like schoolwork.

Since coming to college, I think I’ve gotten a little better each year, but there’s still a lot more for me to work on. Hopefully, by the time I move on to a career, I’ll be able to balance my social life without draining myself. 

It’s all about the baby steps and — no matter what people tell you — the baby steps are just as important as the big ones. For example, I require myself to stay at least a few hours after class at school instead of heading straight home. I’m also trying to get dinner with friends more often. 

Just because some people prefer to stay at home and escape to another world doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. It means they don’t need to be entertained the same way other people are. 

Yes, I might be a hermit and a nerd, but that’s OK because I still have friends who understand I don’t feel comfortable in public. All that matters is that I’m working on my anxiety. If you don’t go out a lot, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. Don’t let others tell you to get out more — that’s not for them to decide. That’s on you. Take those baby steps, and you’ll eventually get to a place where you’re comfortable. When you do, it’s going to make a world of a difference.