The Introverted Fellow

On evenings spent at home, I switch from fancy French films with lavish subtitles and 80’s teen flicks to quirkier viewing. Before journeying into the isle of sleep, I sometimes enjoy watching old Oscar acceptance speeches on YouTube.

The raw emotions, theatrics and joyful demeanor of the winners’ tugs at the heart strings each time. While I revel and sometimes giggle at the sassy acceptance speeches of Cher & Barbara Streisand (had to give a shout out to the gay icons), I always wondered, “gee how the heck do you get up on stage and pretend not too morph into a big ball of anxiety?”

I never fancied pursing a career as an actor. It always seemed grueling to go on a stage and act. Little did I know, that eventually, I too would have to perform the greatest monologues on life’s stage.

I am an extrovert, who loves people. However, I was also hiding a very little known fact. Drum roll please, I had social anxiety. In new situations and crowded places, where I had to socialize, a case of nervous jitters would appear.

Like any proper lad would do, I indulged on a refreshing glass of whisky too loosen up. Alas, it didn’t work. By the end of the party, I would survive, make a witty joke and have memories of a great evening out, though the social anxiety persisted.

On the first big snow of the New York winter season, I woke up excitedly. It was my friend’s birthday in Harlem and the winter sky was calming. I walked out of my modest Harlem apartment with a beautiful bottle of champagne to celebrate. I was then struck by anxiety quickly, as the snow fell gracefully into black pea coat.

“Oh no new people, lots of single guys, what do I do? What do I talk about?” said I. Passing the snow covered hills of St. Nicholas Park and Harlem’s very elegant architectural gems, the fear nearly crippled me. Finally, I arrived at my friend’s apartment. I rinsed the snow from my dark curls and rode the elevator up.

Channeling Barbara Streisand’s Oscar speech was monumental. She was just her witty self on stage. I too must be my witty, quirky self and strut my stuff at this party,” said I. The negative thoughts fled like snowbirds heading south for the winter. “Think Funny Girl,” I did and evolved from a bag full of social anxiety to a fabulous grand dame of the ball.

I danced to 80’s music, made new friends and had frosty adult beverages to commemorate the special day. Then as Duran Duran’s Hungry like a wolf echoed throughout the apartment, the gays arrived. My face turned tomato red. They were really cute. The apartment’s heat levels escalated to inferno levels.

“Be quirky, be funny, but most of all have fun, cause everyone poops and there’s nothing to be intimidated by,” said I (speaking internally). I took a generous gulp of champagne and mingled with the boys. Not a bit of nervousness penetrated through my jolly exterior. By the end of the soiree, I made plenty of new friends and had a splendid time.

Social anxiety reared its unfashionable frock many times after that. With wit, I said the hell with and learned to revel in every campy moment. When one can’t conquer a room full of revelers, pronouncing “hello, gorgeous” would win over friends and make even the stiffest personality into a loveable one.

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