Yeah I know that Halloween’s just gone and it’s not exactly Christmas yet, but you’ll see what I mean soon enough.
The period between now until the New Year is always rammed full of social events like Halloween, NFL London games, my birthday, and of course Christmas and New Year. Even though I really do enjoy this time of year, it plays absolute havoc with my anxiety.
Three (and over) is a crowd
The reason I find it such an anxiety-inducing period? Because pretty much every event this time in the year is in a group.
To most people, that probably sounds great. You’re getting to see a lot more friends than perhaps you normally would right? Well, for me, it depends on the exact circumstances and combination of people as to whether I can actually enjoy being in that group.
Take the three NFL games in London for example. Every year, I go along with a couple of my closest mates which results in a rather awkwardly-numbered group of three. Unfortunately – even though I enjoy the football – there’s almost always one game which I dread and end up hating altogether.
Part of that is because of the people I’m with. On their own, they can be great friends, but put them together, and all of a sudden I’m a clown to be ridiculed. I always play along with any ‘banter’ (god I hate that word) because I always think that I don’t want it to be awkward if I suddenly ask them to stop with their joking. So I let it continue like some sort of scapegoat to absorb the ridicule and make the other two feel better about themselves.
Unfortunately, this is something that seems to happen a lot in social situations like these. Not so much in bigger groups because people tend to pair up and talk to each other. But when there’s an odd number, I always seem to be the one absorbing the hits to the ego.
A family affair
Another aspect of this period that gets my anxiety flaring is that there’s plenty of family time. Again, most normal people would think of it as a great thing, you get to see the ones you love for more time than you usually would. But, much like in social situations with my closest mates, I seem to always take on the role of the clown for everyone to take shots at.
Partly responsible for the dynamic is more than likely because I’m the youngest of three brothers – my older brothers nine and 10 years older than me respectively. I’m therefore the ‘baby’ of the family. Because of that, both of my brothers tend to revert to the same behavioural pattern that they always have done – teaming up and taking the piss out of their younger brother.
There was a time when I was OK with that; after all, it’s not like there was anything I could do about it. But now that I’m 27, it feels a bit old hat and, quite frankly, just plain disrespectful.
Taking things too seriously
The reasonable part of me thinks that I’m just taking these things too seriously. These people are my friends and loved ones after all so they’re not exactly trying to hurt my feelings deliberately… but can you seriously blame me when it feel like it’s a constant occurrence?
I do also feel like a part of it is my fault. Even though situations like this affect me, I never do anything about it. Like I said earlier, I don’t want what could be a nice relaxing situation for my the people around me to become a really awkward affair when I ask them to stop. I mean, I don’t want to be a downer right?
So I’m going to trundle along for the next few weeks until New Year and no doubt find myself in all of these social situations, during which I’ll have a bunch of similar thoughts to those I’ve written above. Hopefully they won’t get in the way of my enjoyment because this really is my favourite time of the year.
Let’s see how it goes.
P.S. this post was a real brainstorm of what’s been going on in my head over the past few weeks so I’m sorry if it’s a bit all over the place. Hopefully it didn’t depress you too much. I’m a cheery person in real life – honest!