I like watching crowds. But being IN them? Not so much.

Yesterday, I posted about Stephen Colbert’s now-epic, star-studded We’ll Meet Again finale. All those guests, from all those different fields–what an uplifting sea of humanity.

But here’s something I didn’t consider until after I posted. If I would have been asked to be part of this finale, I would have declined. Why? I have social anxiety disorder–and crowds are one of my biggest anxieties. I graduated from Harvard this year, but did not attend any of the big ceremonies. My friends and family had a hard time understanding this, but I wasn’t ready. I got anxiety attacks just thinking about attending. So I watched the ceremonies online, in the comfort of my home–and alone.

I was quite content to deal with my Harvard graduation this way. But now, I’m thinking that I need to work on my way of thinking. The other day, one of my doctors said something that really stuck with me. He said, “Everyone faces anxiety. But anxiety, in and of itself, doesn’t kill. You may hate it, but it doesn’t kill. Avoidance, just might, colbert-report-final-showthough. Avoidance only makes anxiety worse. When anxiety escalates disproportionately, that’s where people get in to real trouble.”

I am trying my best to fight my fear of crowds. Tomorrow, I am attending a book party for an author whose book I copy edited. Yes, there’s a big part of me that does not want to go. But I’m going. I want to be there to support my friend on his achievement. And some day, if Stephen Colbert ever invites me to be part of a big crowd like this, I’d like to say, “yes.”

 

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