Here’s the Thing About Introverts with Social Anxiety: We Disappear From Time to Time

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Where’d you go? And when are you finishing my damned turtleneck?

IN THIS ARTICLE:

Ok, so I’m really, really bad at blogging; Hey, it turns out that I’m totally ok with being bad at blogging; Redefining blogging success for myself


People come, people go
Sometimes without goodbye, sometimes without hello
She’s got one magic trick
Just one and that’s it
Ooh… She disappears

It’s like, now you see her, now you don’t
You think you’re gonna get to know her now, well you won’t
She’s got one magic trick
Just one and that’s it
Ooh… She disappears

–  M. Ward, “Magic Trick” (from the album Post War)

Welp, guys, I guess I’ve done it again. I promised regular updates to you all and I didn’t deliver — which is, like, a cardinal blogging sin. Don’t give readers any expectations that you can’t live up to. And now, writing a new blog post feels like sitting down to write that long-overdue response email to an old friend. When the longer you wait, the more shame you feel, the more the anxiety builds, and the less likely you are to ever write it at all. At first you think about whipping out one of those fictional, I-never-got-your-email scenarios you keep in reserve: “Oh man, sorry it took so long — your email was sent to my spam folder for some strange reason”; “I’ve been getting so many emails lately that this got buried in my inbox”; “My account has been acting really weird and sometimes my emails get lost!” You know the ones.

So, all of this to say that I haven’t updated in a while because my inner critic was being a total asshole. I was ashamed for having had this grand idea of reaching out to self-doubting introverts around the world and trying to hook them on crafting — just to abandon it at the first sign of my own self doubt. Classic me. I was embarrassed to have told people whom I highly respected that I was going to truly get serious about this site. Maybe I could turn it into an actual self-sustaining thing. I mean, I pay my bills by creating web content to help corporations build an audience  — why not create content for my own blog and build something for myself?

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Furball and me in hibernation.

A few people I told were actually quite enthusiastic about the idea of marrying the world of arts & crafts (and creative pursuits in general) with social anxiety/introversion support. A few even visited regularly, giving me the initial energy to continue plugging away at it. Though terrifying (I mean, I’m terrified right now) it felt liberating to write honestly and openly about my anxiety in a way I’d never done before.

But then the site visits dropped, as they will. The thumbs up and hearts dwindled on social media. I became obsessed with the numbers. I did what everyone tells you NOT to do when tossing your own precious content into the vast, undulating, ever expanding sea of digital media and its mercilessly fickle audience: I was taking the numbers personally.

Of course I was failing at this, I told myself. I just don’t possess the grit…the determination a person needs for this emotionally grueling enterprise. I’ve got social anxiety for f*ck’s sake — nothing scares me more than the act of public self-promotion.

But then something happened between my last post and this one. I lowered the bar I’d set for myself. A LOT. Blogging success no longer means growing a large audience or, hell, even a small audience.

| “Sometimes if you build it, they won’t come. And frankly, in this age of content overload, they probably won’t.” |

Or not…it’s all good.

But hey — that’s ok. Maybe no one ever reads this post — or any other post I create henceforth. Or maybe a lone person, riddled with anxiety and self doubt, reads something I’ve written here and for a fleeting moment, feels understood. Or if someone surfs in and gets inspired to learn how to knit. Well if so, then praise be, ’cause that sure AF spells success for me.

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Dude, Where’s My Cardigan?: Husband’s 2012 Christmas Gift Progress Report

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IN THIS ARTICLE:
Making good on your promises to those you love
even when life gets weird.


We’ve got loads of reasons for leaving business unfinished. Like, there are some things that you don’t finish out of a crippling perfectionism — the kind that tells you that if a thing won’t be perfect, it isn’t worth finishing. Or there are some things you don’t do because you’re really busy and they’re not as high on your priority list. And then, of course, there are the things you leave unfinished out of sheer laziness. All can be shame-inducing.

But there’s a special kind of shame reserved for when you’ve promised to make something for a loved one for a special occasion that you had every intention of finishing on time for that occasion, but you don’t.

Such is the case with this cardigan I promised to my husband for Christmas. Christmas 2012.  It is now October 2017. Or, wait a minute — maybe I promised it to him for his birthday? Who knows, I can’t even remember. All I know is that I started making the thing five years ago and have promised to finish it every subsequent year, but life got weird. Weird how? Work stressed me me out. Work stressed him out. We were stressing each other out. Resentments festered. Etc.

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#FBF to that time in 2014 when I posted on Instagram about how I was making progress. Ha!

To make matters worse, this isn’t just any cardigan — it’s the “Dude” cardigan. Yep, the famed ’70s Pendleton worn by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. An article of clothing I chose to DIY for my husband because he’s been a HUGE fan of the Coen brothers since he was a youth growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland with this crazy, far-fetched ambition to one day move to Los Angeles to work in the entertainment industry. Such was his love for the big screen. And the small screen. All the screens.

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#TBT to that time, in 2016, when I said I just might “actually be able to finish” it. Double ha!

With much hard work and persistence (on top of natural talent, of course), my amazing dude uprooted his life and moved halfway across the world to make his goal a reality. Even when life got weird.

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Image: The Big Lebowski | Gramercy Pictures

I, on the other hand, chickened out of my childhood career ambitions, moved a mere 30 miles from where I grew up, and I can’t even finish a lousy cardigan for the person I love most in the world.

Of course, I could continue using the “poetic” excuse of taking the same laissez-faire attitude while making this cardigan as the Dude himself took throughout the film. That is, “the Dude abides” unchanged as all hell breaks loose around him.

But, and I’m going to be super frank now, one of the biggest reasons I didn’t put in the time and effort to finish this cardigan for my husband was resentment. I was depressed and dissatisfied with my life. Consumed by a job that was only leading me farther away from where I wanted to be. He was busy with a career that was blowing up. And resentment manifests in all sorts of ways — like being unwilling to put in the extra effort at the end of a tiring day to make good on a promise years ago. And, in more ways than one, this cardigan seemed to epitomize his success and my (perceived) failure. Resentment makes us conjure up crazy symbolism like that.

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A month ago, it was two pieces of knit fabric. Now, it’s an actual vest! A wearable thing. Two sleeves and a collar away from done.

But no more. I hereby proclaim THIS to be the year. Not just for finally finishing this cardigan, but for making a greater commitment to finish what I start. To actively pursue and take responsibility for my own happiness. To love my loved ones like there is no tomorrow. Unconditionally. All of those things we know we should do but don’t — until tragic things happen in the world that remind us that tomorrow is never, and was never, guaranteed.

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The back.

So Los Angeles had better have a cold, cold winter this year, especially after the record-breaking heat we’ve had throughout the fall. Otherwise, my husband’s going to be sweating buckets wearing this thing on Christmas morning.

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This terrific knitting pattern can be found at andreaknits.com/dude.

Oh yeah, and I think it’s also fitting to announce that 10 years ago on this day, we got married inside a Toyota Prius in a drive-thru wedding ceremony in Vegas.

Here we are, driving down the aisle.

Love, American style.

And ordering. I think we had the dinner combo.

One wedding please, supersized.

Looking forward to 10 more years with my dude.

How A Capsule Wardrobe & An App Helped My Anxiety Big Time


IN THIS ARTICLE:
I, a pathological clothes collector, got rid of 90% of
my wardrobe and it was the best anti-anxiety decision ever;
the ah-mazing wardrobe organizer app that helped me;
I admit that it’s not for everyone


I love clothes. Let me repeat that for emphasis. I lu-hu-hu-HUUUUUV clothes.

Not sure how to say that in a way that sufficiently conveys my deep, emotional connection to those glorious pieces of fabric joined together to protect our bodies from the elements.

Still, the affection I had for my garments (many of them I constructed myself) did not stop me — approximately 8 months ago — from donating 14 large moving boxes full of them to the Goodwill. Percentage-wise, that was about 90% of my wardrobe, and I’m still not finished paring down. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be doing such a thing, I’d have scoffed.

Continue reading “How A Capsule Wardrobe & An App Helped My Anxiety Big Time”

Turn a Tube Sock Into a Microwaveable Scented Heat Pack (Video)

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Anxious much? Let this heat pack enfold you in its toasty, rice-weighted, aromatherapy embrace. There there, now. It’ll be ok.

IN THIS ARTICLE:
Heat packs soothe both body and mind; pssst, there’s
an even easier way to make it*


Ah the microwaveable scented heat pack. Humble as it is, I’d put it on a very short list of luxuries that cost next to nothing. But what if you don’t have sore muscles? Doesn’t matter. All you need are muscles.  You’ve got muscles, right? And daily emotional stressors too, I’m guessing? Well, you’ll benefit from this, trust me — especially on a chilly evening. Just nuke it, drape it round your neck and shoulders, light some candles, and succumb to your handmade heatpack’s warm embrace. Continue reading “Turn a Tube Sock Into a Microwaveable Scented Heat Pack (Video)”

7 Top Ranking Free Online Social Anxiety Tests (And My Impressions)


IN THIS ARTICLE:
7 free social anxiety tests you’ll probably encounter online if
you Google; types of questions & results;
which sites are trying to sell you something


Google “free social anxiety tests,” and you’ll find these seven among the top search results — so I thought it might be helpful for some of you if I jotted down my impressions of each. It should go without saying that you should always take results from non-verified, for-personal-use tests with a good dose of healthy skepticism — especially if they’ve got an online therapy program to sell to you. Still, they can be a good place to start if you want a general idea as to the severity of your social anxiety, and possibly help you figure out your top anxiety triggers.

Continue reading “7 Top Ranking Free Online Social Anxiety Tests (And My Impressions)”

Social Media Gives Me Social Anxiety…So Why Can’t I Quit?

My thumb vs. Facebook. A daily battle.

IN THIS ARTICLE:
what some researchers say about social media
and anxiety, how Facebook totally screws with my head,
I ask for your experiences and input


It’s clear to me that the more time I spend on social media, the more anxious I get. Yet I keep subjecting myself to it — every single day, several times a day.

At least I know I’m not alone. Google  “social media and anxiety” and you’ll scroll through headline after headline reporting stuff like: Social Media Is Causing Anxiety, Study Finds;  Social Media, Loneliness, and Anxiety in Young People, etc.

Continue reading “Social Media Gives Me Social Anxiety…So Why Can’t I Quit?”

The All New Incurable Homebody: DIY For the Socially Awkward


IN THIS ARTICLE:
dad’s words of wisdom, the rebirth of the blog,
how crafting helps my social anxiety and
maybe it can help yours


Saturday, August 26th, was my dad’s 73rd birthday. To honor the occasion, my younger sister Liesl and her husband Kenny threw a celebratory lunch at their apartment. Though I didn’t make it for the meal (I’ve got dietary restrictions up the wazoo), Continue reading “The All New Incurable Homebody: DIY For the Socially Awkward”