There were times when there was no way you could get me out to eat in a public place. NO way.
eating-in-publicIt was one of those things that I feared the most.
Just thinking about eating in front of other people made me feel anxious.
Just thinking about it made me imagine all possible negative scenarios that could happen.
You know, I could drop a spoon and it would make such a loud sound that everyone around would notice it and give me “the look”.
Or I could spill a soup or accidentally tipped the glass of water I’d be drinking.
People would be looking at me, judging me and talking about me behind my back.
They would see me shaking and would think I’m weird.
You know, I had all these negative thoughts just thinking about eating in front of people.
And this fear of eating in front of others had a very negative effect on my social life.
I avoided family gatherings where there would be a lot of food involved and I‘d have to eat in front of my whole family.
And I avoided going out to lunch with my coworkers, which had an even worse effect on the quality of my life.
You see, avoiding family gatherings didn’t affect me that much. It just didn’t happen that often.
But avoiding my coworkers during lunchtime was devastating.
For a month they were trying to invite me to go to lunch with them, but since I never accepted the invitation, they stopped inviting me.
And they started to avoid me at work as well.
They started to look away when they saw me coming.
They all acted like they were busy working whenever I came around.
And soon I got completely isolated.
Definitely a bad feeling.
Especially when you have to spend 5 days a week, 8 hours a day in this kind of negative environment.
It became unbearable but it just wasn’t the time to deal with my fear of eating in front of other people.
My social anxiety was bigger than that and I had to start at the beginning.
I had to start addressing the smaller problems first… you know, things like making an eye contact and simply saying “Hi” without getting all stressed up.
But I did develop a strategy that allowed me to eat in public places without going nuts.
When I went out on lunch alone, I tried to concentrate on the positive things.
I tried to concentrate on how the food tasted and tried to enjoy that.
I also tried to steer my focus on the pleasant things I would do when I got home.
Things like having a bubble bath.
Or watching a good movie before going to sleep.
These coping strategies allowed me to embrace my fear and go out to lunch more often.
And at times when I had company, I did my best to focus on the conversation itself so that the negative thoughts weren’t able to come up.
Hopefully these strategies can help you deal with this fear as well.
But keep in mind; if you want to overcome your social anxiety, you need to become strategic about it.