Social Anxiety

Dark bedroom, early morning light through curtains.

6:09 a.m. Early morning light. Summer soon.

I cracked a fortune cookie, pulled out the little strip of paper, popped a piece of cookie in my mouth, and while I munched on it, read my fortune. (They don’t seem to have fortunes anymore, really. Just an adage, which we might perceive as a cosmic clue. I mean, it’s only meant as entertainment. But, you know…) It read, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”

Yes. I know this. I know this. It was a reminder. Because I forget.

Fortune cookie strip says, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought."

Fortune cookie strips I tape along my bedroom doorframe.

I stopped to think what thoughts I have that bring me to this place where I am dissatisfied.

Emily Dickinson had social anxiety. She locked herself in her room. As a kid in sixth grade, I thought that was a beautiful life. Never leaving your room, surrounded by books, reading and writing poetry.

Years later, my high school friend freaked out when I told her that. “That’s crazy,” she shouted.

Well, I wouldn’t use the word “crazy.” Unfortunate, I’d say. Agoraphobia, social anxiety and the unconscious excuses one makes to shut doors to opportunities.

Dickinson wrote poetry like no one else. I wonder, if she didn’t have social anxiety, if she weren’t agoraphobic (which I’m presuming was the case), would she still write like she did? Or would her poetry be different?

A therapist and I once talked about how some people are convinced that they are something they aren’t, and that we can see that, but others don’t. She said they just convince people that they are what they think they are. I’m not talking about pathological liars. Just people who think they are more than what they are, and it serves them well.

Then there are those who think they are less than what they are. And they convince people of that too. Certainly doesn’t serve them well.

Social anxiety. Agoraphobia. Panic attacks. Fear of being seen.

The first step, is to know what you’re working with. Catch the thoughts so you’ll know what they are. Then you can deal with them. Change them.

I’m thinking of writers I have read, or writers I’ve met. They are successful. But, damn it, their writing isn’t really all that.

Well, there’s also luck. Luck hasn’t exactly been friendly to me. But that’s no excuse. I hide behind my fears. That’s why I’m dissatisfied. It’s on me. That’s what the fortune cookie told me. “Change your thoughts, Estela.”


About Poet Dressed In Black

Poet. Artist. Grammy of one, a granddaughter. Mom of three, son and two daughters, all grown. Individualist. Care-taker of Isabel, an agoraphobic, fear-aggressive, very nervous, delicate flower, Chihuahua mix.
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