We are approaching the half way point of 2018 and I find myself pausing to reflect on the past six months. It has gone by in a blur and to say it has been hectic would be an understatement. It seems like every weekend there has been something happening. I was actually shocked when I looked at my diary today and saw a blank page where the upcoming weekend’s activity should be.
Between April and June we had three weddings to attend as well as my God Daughter’s christening. The weddings were all beautiful, and each very different. The first was my sister in law’s. Next up was my best friend, I was her bridesmaid. Last, but by no means least, was a very good friend of ours. As I was getting ready to go to the third wedding, it stuck me that I was incredibly wound up. Much more so than I would have expected to be. After all, this was the third one in a six week period, it should have been old hat. As well as that this wedding was the closest one to our house, a mere 15 minute drive. Neither of us had a “role” in this wedding either. We just needed to frock up and rock up. So why did I feel like I was on my way to a job interview with an exam at the end?
I didn’t have much time to ponder this anxiety right then, I got in the car, and once at the hotel, with a drink in hand I started to relax. It was a brilliant day and we had so much fun catching up with everyone. In the days that followed, I started to feel pretty ridiculous. What was causing this tension? Was I suffering from some sort of social anxiety? I had felt the same thing before the other two weddings, but I could kind of explain it away. It’s natural to want to be at your best for a family wedding, right? And of course being a bridesmaid is a big responsibility so my fears were perfectly rational, yeah? But that doesn’t help explain why I was tense and snappy the morning of our friend’s big day. Full disclosure, there may have been hair style related tears!
So what was causing this? In truth, I have put on some weight and I am definitely not feeling as slim and slinky as I would like to, but this is not the reason. I have felt like this at my biggest and at my smallest. I have experienced it in designer dresses and in Penney’s best. The only way I can describe it, is as a fear of being judged and found wanting. I was chatting through this with a very good friend of mine last week and I likened it to the feeling you might get before going to a school reunion. Worrying about how I would measure up. Stressing about every detail of my appearance, and more irrationally, my life!
During the course of this conversation, I was amazed to hear my friend tell me that she often experiences the same thing. She seemed all too well able to relate to my craziness. She is one of the most together people I know. If I had to give you an example of a woman with her ducks in row, she would be top of the list. I started to wonder, if she is feeling this way too, is everyone? Are we all being plagued by the same feelings of inadequacy and dread when we are supposed to be having fun? Are we going through an epidemic of anti-social anxiety?
The hilarious, and tragic, thing about the situation is that nobody really cares! Most people are not going to give you or your outfit more than a cursory glance. They certainly aren’t going to waste their time doing a full critique of your life. Because, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter. The proof of this is in my own experience. While attending three weddings and one christening in close succession, I must have seen 300 people all dressed up. Honestly, I would struggle to describe a handful of outfits, and as for hair and make-up, forget about it!
So, how do we prevent this feeling? I wish I had the answer. I wish I could tell you to dismiss it, put your best high heeled foot forward and have a blast, but that hasn’t worked for me so far. The only thing which has helped me even slightly, is to recognise the feeling when it comes, and say to myself “Arwen, you have felt like this before and everything worked out fine.” So, when it came to my gorgeous God Daughter’s christening, I did exactly that. I was still carrying the extra weight. Plus I had a huge cold sore on my lip, which was uncomfortable and prevented me from being able to wear my armour (lippy.) However, I was determined to be truly present for my darling’s big day and not trapped in my own head. So, I strapped on my big girl panties and off I went.
We all had a wonderful day and I know that when I look back on it, I will remember how happy we were and how honoured I felt to be asked to stand for her, not that my dress was a little snug. Be well xxx