Friday, September 16, 2011

Mission accomplished...kinda, sort of

Mission accomplished! I made it through a networking event, well sort of.  The university I graduated from hosted an event for Radio-TV-Film majors (which I was) about a mile down the road from where I live. I adored the people and professors I took classes with and get teased I still talk about college, now 8 years after graduating.  
I've been contemplating attending this event for a month.  The only reason I came up with to not attend the event was my social anxiety.  What is the worst that could possibly happen?  Maybe I actually would network with somebody and find my next path in life.  The event was after work from 5-7pm, a happy hour.  The first drink was compliments of the University.  Considering I only recently finished paying off my student loan, I figured they owed me the free drink.

I arrived in the parking lot of the restaurant at 4:50 pm.  For 20 minutes I sat there preparing how to walk in, what to talk to people about, and most importantly preparing an exit strategy. 
I walked into the event and immediately spotted my beloved Professor.  He immediately came over to give me a hug.  We spoke one on one for about 15 minutes until I gave him an out.  "I don't want to hog you all night Professor.  You can go talk to some other people if you want."  And with that I was on my own.  At that first moment alone I became aware of the sweat dripping down my back, and continuing down both of my legs. The temperature in the room was not hot, this was all from my nerves. My armpits were soaking wet.  When I chose my dress, I didn't think about the material. 100% silk.

Two large sweat circles soaked my dress from my arm pits down to my abdomen.  My shoes were squeaky from the sweat.  I wasn't going to give up quite yet.  To my left stood a lady alone, looking a little uncomfortable as well.  I make my attempts at small talk, quickly realizing she is actually more difficult to talk to than I am.  This continues for a solid 20 minutes.  We run out of small talk and stand next to each other looking around the room during a long awkward pause, when I notice another lady to my left.  I take the opportunity to introduce myself.  The new girl is Mrs. Cool.  She shows no signs of nervousness, and is well dressed in her designer clothes. She takes control of the conversation asking pertinent networking questions. This is not her first rodeo and she is exuding confidence. Mrs. Cool causes my perspiration to increase at an uncontrollable speed.  I can feel the drips of sweat rushing down both sides of my legs.  Mrs. Cool is perfectly nice, and unknowingly is contributing to a possible public anxiety attack for me.  Mrs. Cool excuses herself to the bar and I am left again with the other lady.  I take this opportunity and implement my exit strategy.  I grab Professor, tell him a quick good-bye and head out the door.  I sit still in my car before leaving to calm down a bit. On my way home I grab some comfort food to help calm my nerves. 
I return home to my safe zone, change out of my wet clothes and plop myself on my couch to self sooth with my delicious Nammi sandwich.  

Although this was quite the struggle for me, I am very proud of myself for actually going, if only for an hour.  I may always feel like this, but half the battle in life is just showing up, right? 

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