That picture is an accurate representation of what my insides are doing right about now.
Though my partner and I have lived in California for over a decade now (good god, where does the time go), we don’t have close friends, locally. Our closest friends (geographically) are in Los Angeles (which, if you are from this area, or at least familiar with freeway traffic here, you will know that could be hours away even if it should be 45 minutes), and we see them maybe once a year.
Most of my friends are online. The person (aside from my partner) I play games with most lives in Kentucky and we’ve never actually met. Yet I talk to him more than I talk to almost any of my other friends.
Life is funny, sometimes.
The friend I communicate with most lives in Missouri, yet we’ve never met in person.
Almost two years ago, I had the chance to meet a friend I’d known online (for over ten years!) in person. She was coming to the area and I was really hesitant about meeting her. What if I let her down? What if meeting in person was unspeakably awkward? What if knowing me in person ruined everything?
Allow me to sidetrack here for a moment.
I don’t have the best track record with retaining friends. Some have just disappeared from my life with little to no reason why. Some people I thought were closer friends than they were, only to find out that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, living where we do in California, a lot of people come visit the area, yet they rarely want to meet up, even when we offer to come to them, wherever they are.
That’s really hard.
I have almost gotten used to it. Almost.
Back to the friend I’d known for ten years. I waffled on going or not for days. I wanted to back out because I knew I’d be a huge let down in person. But I went. I thought I was going to puke all over, but I went. And we had such a good time. I was so relieved.
Last October, the opportunity came up to meet another online friend in person, this one I had only known for a year or so. We were both part of an online video game group and I found out she lived just a few miles from me. We had talked about wanting to go to Knott’s Scary Farm (something I’d had an irrational fear/mental block of for years), so we decided to meet for the first time AT Knott’s Scary Farm. I would not only be meeting her, but several of her friends.
I was MF’ing terrified.
Again, I kept waffling on whether to go or not. I knew I was repulsive in person and I felt sure I would let her down. At the time I was so freaked out, I wasn’t even thinking that I’d be severely outnumbered, that they all knew each other, that I didn’t know any of them, and that we’d be going through mazes where people wanted to scare the sh*t out of me.
But I went. And we hit it off, and I was so glad I went. I’ve since met up with her several times since then.
So, based on those two experiences, you’d think I wouldn’t be so terrified about tonight, but I am.
Someone who I’ve only relatively recently become friends with online (I think we are friends?) is in town for work. He asked if my partner and I would want to come have dinner with him while he was here.
Cue up the symphony of self-doubt.
I have warned him I am dud in person. I have agonized over going. I know I will be glad I went, but, until then, I’ve been thinking of all the ways I will be a huge let-down of a person.
I am so glad my partner will be with me, as he and this other person have things in common and I’m betting they hit it off.
Doing this is so far out of my comfort zone (for so many reasons), I can’t even tell you. I know this is good for me. But, as if the anticipation isn’t enough to stress me to the max, we have to get up to LA in rush hour traffic, so I will have a good long time to sweat in the car and think about all the ways in which I fall short as a person.
This has me at the peak of my anxiety. But I’m going. I know I will be glad I went.
In the mean time, I’m pretty sure I could barf at will.
Please no one poke me.
And here’s sincerely hoping tonight goes well. I promise to do my best.
Ahhhh, I could have written this! I have enormous social anxiety (brought about by Asperger’s, I learned last year) and so any sort of “meeting in person” fills me with enormous dread, even if I’ve been happily conversing with that person online for months or years. Hell, even making the switch from text chat to voice chat terrifies me.
I unfortunately don’t have any particularly good advice other than to remember your past experiences and take comfort from the fact this will almost certainly work out the same way :) Good luck!
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Aww, I’m sorry you can relate. <3 I'm so sorry you have social anxiety; it can be so debilitating and difficult to explain to people who don't experience the same things. And I 100% relate on the switch from text to voice chat! It makes me so uncomfortable that first time!
That's good advice! The meeting went just fine, and I'm glad I went. But I did feel like I was going to vomit the whole way there!
Meeting people you know online is the craziest experience. I’ve been doing it since I was 16 and sometimes it’s terrible and sometimes it awesome. One of my oldest and best friends that I talk to every day lives in Nebraska and I’ve only ever met him twice. We knew each other for over 10 years before we ever met. I can totes relate to this post.
Getting outside the comfort zone is always anxiety inducing but I think it’s always a good thing once you get through it. It’s a constant challenge we have to put on ourselves though I think, because humans can be so easily stuck in a comfort/lazy rut and can just spin their wheels for years. I struggle with his too.
And shit we only see you once a year?!?? That’s probably correct. Ugh. We gotta fix that. I’m working in Long Beach for the rest of the summer so that’s a lot closer! Also we got SoCal Disney passes so should be in Anaheim a lot more this year.
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Is it ever! Wait, since you were 16! Holy crap. When I was 16 the internet wasn’t even around.
I think the first person I met in person that I’d known online was in 2000 when I lived in Germany.
Isn’t it interesting how that works out? That someone you met online is such a huge part of your life? I kind of love that.
I agree it’s always good to push past the comfort zone once in a while. I am definitely one of those people who unintentionally spins their wheels and gets nowhere.
Yes! Pretty much we see each other a little under once a year. I mean, you guys are super busy and travel along that stretch of freeways is gross, so I see how it could happen. I had no idea you were in Long Beach for work! If you guys get over to Disney and want to meet up at Downtown Disney, just let us know.
All the best and don’t let the self doubt get you down!
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Thank you! The self doubt was strong, but I’m glad I went anyway!
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