Dealing With Social Anxiety While In A Black Sorority

I hope that I find peace in writing this.

For those who don't know, I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Delta blood runs strong through my family (*waves to my mother*); however, I didn't always know that I wanted to be in a sorority.
Matt at my New Member Initiation Presentation
Growing up, I saw amazing examples of how strong and dedicated the women of Delta Sigma Theta are and I just didn't know if I had what it took to live up to that. I saw myself as too meek and introverted to ever join any sorority. I was the type of girl that could count the number of friends she had on two fingers and was completely okay with that. Fast-forward about a decade and I am now a line sister to 33 amazing women who are all unique with a vast array of interests and personality traits, both extroverted and introverted.
For those who are wondering, I'm #26 out of 34 :)
Being a member of my sorority has been such a rewarding experience in ways that I would have never imagined; however, with the constant interaction that comes with being in a sorority, my socially anxious personality was bound to rear its ugly head. Two weeks ago, I attended my alma mater's homecoming and with homecoming comes stroll competitions, tailgates and non-stop parties. I am naturally an introverted person and have some shy tendencies, but I do like to be around people at times, especially my sorors. I was excited to reunite with everyone, so excited that I was willing to drive a few hours to attend the events.
When I arrived, everything was great. I attended the stroll competition, loved on my line sisters, held up my pyramid while they strolled and even got all dress up for the after party. Except, I couldn't go to the after party. Nothing physically was preventing me from getting into the after party. Hell, I got all dressed up to go and had some back up shoes in my car. Mentally, however, I just could not go to the party. I went through all of the motions of going to the party until I panicked. On my way to pick up my friend to go to the party, I started replaying interactions from the stroll competition and then projected them on what interactions might occur at the party. What if I say something weird? What if I say something that is taken offensive? What if someone comes for me and I'm not quick enough to have a good comeback? What if a stroll song comes on that I don't remember the moves to and I get stuck holding the pyramid? What if it is too crowded and I can't get through? I mentally pictured every scenario, tried to come up with what I'd do if each situation happened and then my heart started racing. So instead of going out, I decided to go with my best friend and eat at a bar that we had been to a thousand times.

My biggest kryptonite is over thinking what people say to me, as well as how I interact with them. On my journey to becoming a Delta, there were a few interactions and comments said that threw my whole process for a loop. I hate feeling like I've disappointed anyone or that I am coming off a certain way, so I definitely take a lot to heart. During my homecoming weekend, an "unsisterly" soror said a few comments to me that almost ruined my whole weekend. To this day, I am still replaying the comments from her and wishing that I could go back in time and say what I wanted to say now that I've had time to think about it. Because of the comments, I didn't even attend a brunch that I RSVPed to because I knew that she would be there and I hadn't yet gathered my thoughts. And I'm not the type of person that blows off free food, especially brunch. I'm sure that other people would have brushed the comments off and kept on with their lives, but for some reason I couldn't. I never can with situations like these.

Unfortunately, my anxious personality is not something that can easily be brushed off. While going through my bits of anxiety over the weekend, I happened to come across this article from Jacque Amadi and almost broke down crying. I had never heard someone describe so accurately how I have felt my whole life. There have been so many times that I've gone out and had to take a "bathroom break" to regroup or have gotten up and left to take a walk without alerting anyone. I'm not one who likes to draw attention to myself, so I don't ever talk about my social anxiety and barely admit it to myself.

For anyone out there who is considering joining a sorority but is afraid that their anxious ways will get the best of them, I have a few tips. First, although sororities can be huge, it's okay to have a few line sisters and sorors who are your "go-to" people when you attend events. Of course you still have all of yours sorors' backs, but it's okay to do so from a distance. Not everyone is going to be super close and that's okay. Also, learn the difference between mandatory and non-mandatory events and be okay with not going to some of the non-mandatory events. You don't have to attend every frat party, girl's night and cookout. Dealing with social anxiety can be so disruptive to life, but realize that these are the hands that you have been given.

I wish that I could tell you that you'll get over being anxious, but we all know that would be a lie. Try to not be disappointed with yourself and do the best that you can.  

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