#13 – Something Henry Rollins and I have in common (FYI it’s Social Anxiety)

If you’ve never heard Henry Rollins speak you’re missing out. A guy with a fascinating backstory and obscene work ethic.

The Rockstar (Black Flag frontman), public speaker, radio presenter, author, adventurer, has led by anyone’s definition of a ‘full life’.

No stranger to the public eye, Henry performs for an expectant crowd on a weekly basis. 

Not exactly the type of person you’d associate with social anxiety. This sentence resonated with me:

“I’m happy to come and bail you out of jail at 3 in the morning, just don’t ask me to come to dinner”.

He’s that friend who’d do anything for you, but he doesn’t want the dinner party, Xmas do and weddings that come along with the friendship package.

I know EXACTLY what he means.

This might seem absurd, even rude, but for me it’s understandable.

Something as innocuous as a meal with friends can be hard work for me. The build-up, the knotted feeling in the pit of my stomach, the temptation to bail at the last minute – I know the pattern well.

There’s an obvious contradiction here. I interact with people for a living, I film myself for YouTube, I deliver seminars – why am I struggling with a dinner party?

Henry also discusses the difference between performing in front of people vs being with people.

In my case, if I deliver a nutrition seminar I’m definitely in a heightened state, but it’s more nervous excitement than impending doom. 

However, if I’m attending a wedding at the weekend I can feel ‘the fear’ all week. You know that feeling when there’s an exam looming you haven’t prepared for? It’s like that.

I’m decent at small talk but it doesn’t come naturally to me. If I’ve had a hectic social weekend I feel absolutely exhausted afterwards because I can’t relax. I’m ‘on’ at all times.

This isn’t true in all cases (closest friends and family being the exception) but I know I’m a textbook introvert.

I can’t change who I am at my core but I know I can deal with these situations better.

I’m working on it. 

I’m aware of the pattern.

Self-awareness and self-reflection are tools I’m forever sharpening but there’s a new addition that’s helping me right now:

Writing.

Getting my thoughts down in black and white helps immeasurably. 

Thanks for taking the time to read them.