I think it’s safe to say that 2017 has marked a massive turning point in my social anxiety. In time, I’ve learned to say no to things that make me unhappy and yes to new experiences. Since January, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, met new people and formed solid friendships. It’s not always been easy; panic and self-consciousness eat away at me before meet-ups then after I feel drained and I analyse the day obsessively. Why put yourself through that though? It’s pure escapism when I’m actually engaging with others – I relax with giggles and jokes, forget my worries exploring new places and lose myself in deep conversation. My life feels all the richer for it.
Last Saturday was another new meet-up with someone I’d spoken to for all of two minutes. A few weeks ago in Margate, I was stopped by the lovely Jennifer who let me know she followed me on Instagram. Awkwardly, I said hello and flapped a bit before I headed off for dinner. A few messages later, we met in London for a power brunch at Dishoom.
Sometimes meeting new people can be a little uncomfortable and there can be strained moments. With Jennifer, it was like being with an old friend – snug and content. Twinned brunches of chilli cheese toast with fried eggs were washed down with copious amounts of chai as we chatted for England. By the end of it, I felt as if we could start a new world order and tear down the patriarchy. Jennifer is one woke, reflective and honest gal, she just glows with it.
After Dishoom we wandered around Carnaby Street, finishing up at Choccywoccydodah (we got free cake – score!). I’m amazed that a chance encounter led to such a perfect morning.
Later on in the day, I caught up with some friends from uni around Oxford Circus (I try to pack a lot into my days out). Around half four, I took a stroll to Holborn to meet Kelly and Rhina. Rhina was running a little late so we decided to go for a walk. We turned the corner and found a little passageway. Both of us were sure it was private but the friendly gatekeeper invited us in. Through the gate, it turned out that there was a pretty swanky hotel. Kelly’s an art teacher and it turns out that this hotel (The Rosewood) has a an art-inspired afternoon tea…we’re definitely going back for that! Once we’d faffed about in the loos and explored as much as we could, we headed back to the tube to pick up Rhina.
The reason for our meet-up was Rhina’s move to Germany. Over the year, we have become such firm friends and although I feel incredibly sad that Rhina is leaving, I am so excited for her new life in Stuttgart. Kelly and I are heading over there next half term – not long! To celebrate the travels of our dear friend, we booked in to All Star Lanes (a bowling and diner place with a few branches dotted around London).
Taking in our surroundings, a jovial hen party wished Rhina safe travels with a bottle of buck’s fizz – such a sweet gesture. Bowling shoes laced (velcroed in Rhina’s case), we took to the lanes. None of us are particularly gifted in the bowling department so we got the barriers up on the sides. Kelly was very much on form and won the title of King of the Pins!
Having worked up an appetite, we settled down for drinks and munch. All three of us can safely say that we were not disappointed – seriously tasty mains and scrummy desserts all round. Full up, we waddled off home.
As I’ve worked on my anxiety, I’ve managed to meet quite a few new people. My aim in life is not to make a ton of casual acquaintances but rather to form a couple of solid, long-standing friendships. I know I have that with Kelly and Rhina. We talk about anything and everything – we can be super serious or very silly. When we’re out in our little girl gang, I feel confident and uplifted – it’s such a great feeling. In meeting Jennifer, I found someone who embodies my beliefs and shares a lot of the same interests as me. Both of us like dresses and eyeliner flicks but we also passionately discuss intersectional feminism, dystopian fiction, drag queens and politics. Even though I’m friends with people who like to dress vintage/pin-up, I know that we would still be friends if I didn’t dress similarly. As much as I hate the internet sometimes, I am so glad it exists; without it, I would never have found such brilliant people!