Social Anxiety at Events, Italian Dream Weddings & Me

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When I was a guest at the perfect Italian wedding

Italian Dream Wedding & Me - An insight into a nervous wreck with social anxiety at events

The heading says it all. It's THE Italian Dream Wedding of the Year, well and on the other side there is me. Nervous, insecure me that has to deal with social anxiety at events.

A dream wedding with the perfect setting - the Tuscany

 View over the Tuscan wine plantations at sunset - calming my social anxiety at events

View over the Tuscan wine plantations at sunset - calming my social anxiety at events

This past weekend I went to the perfect dream wedding of my boyfriend’s sister, in the perfect dream destination. Pisa, Tuscany. An old Italian Villa with Frescos on the ceiling, a dinner under the lights of an olive tree. Yeah, seems like an amazing experience to be part of that. And it was. I just wish I could have enjoyed this joyful celebration of a wonderful family and their love as all the others must have. But, sadly, it put me under immense stress.

To be pretty. To be friendly. To be fun. To be the cool one. To be accepted. To be regarded as helpful. To only be talked about positively if at all, constantly seeing myself through the eyes of others.

Imagine sitting in a café and staring at yourself from the dark right corner, your worst enemy sitting on an arm-chair.

I don’t even remember how you call this – imagine sitting in a café and staring at yourself from the dark right corner, your worst enemy sitting on an arm-chair. Now imagine hearing him/her think the worst things about you but in your own head.

How low self-esteem changes the way you see social events - or in this case weddings

I have been subject to bullying all my school life, at times more than in other phases. It must have all started when I was about 12 years old and still playing with imaginary horses while other girls carried suitcases for their make-up on field trips. Or at 17 when my face showed a little too much disgust when the cool kids started making fun of someone. Or maybe when I simply could never really decide who I was – ergo people could not really make anything of me and their relationship to me either.

Sometime between having to hear that people got eye-cancer because of me, being tricked into hilarious bets by boys and backstabbing friends I developed a serious form of low self-esteem, that people do not really know about unless they are very close to me.

And no this is not the point when you display pitty. This explanation is for those of you who have experienced the same. You might get this on another level. Actually I learned a lot by reading about experiences of others. You feel less alone. So here it goes.

If you are thinking of a wedding that you usually only see in rom-com movies then add a few more pounds of perfection to this one.

 Villa di Corliano in Tuscany close to Pisa - the wedding location

Villa di Corliano in Tuscany close to Pisa - the wedding location

But let’s get back to that dream wedding in the Tuscan Villa di Corliano that was built by wealthy merchants as a summer house. If you are thinking of a wedding that you usually only see in rom-com movies then add a few more pounds of perfection to this one.

The women who wore the same dress 

Already months before the wedding I was thinking about my dress – no, I was not the bride. But to be pretty, even though I always preach that looks are not the most important thing in a woman, was somehow very very very important to me. Therefore, I chose a dress that I loved. It was red.

And just because of a few comments by my friend that red was too daunting for a wedding, I got uncomfortable and bought another one – this time yellow, like the lemons on the invitation. I was quite happy with my choice as it seemed perfect for the Tuscan vibe. However, so was the other girl wearing the exact same dress with similar style shoes. At least I knew my taste was not completely off.

Sometimes it feels like the more people I get to meet at an event, the more judges of myself I accumulate.

The whole evening I was jumping and dancing not only on the dance floor but also from imaginary thought of this person to an imaginary judgment of that person. In my mind, they all were thinking the same thing: and that was that the caramel-skinned beautiful women could pull that dress off so much more than I could.

Trying to be the perfect version of yourself 

Well, that was the awkward dress faux-pas. However, even worse was the expectation I had to be the best and most entertaining version of myself. My boyfriend’s parents were supposed to find me charming, the bride helpful, my boyfriend chilled out, all the other guests a blast. Sometimes it feels like the more people I get to meet at an event, the more judges of myself I accumulate. Of course, I know that is not true and absolutely my subjective reality – but it is still A reality.

When I travel, especially alone, no one has expectations.

You see, when I travel, especially alone, no one has expectations. As soon as I feel like I am trapped or as soon as I feel like I do not fit (and that feeling will eventually come from inside of me), I move on. At social events, or at dream weddings like this, I can’t do that.

Alcohol does not really help my cause, either. Whenever I’m nervous or stressed, my gut decides to give me agonizing cramps and diarrhea on top of that. Try looking charming and to keep dancing when you feel like you will shit your pants at any given minute. There I am dancing, smiling, and the only thing I want to do is go upstairs and curl into a ball of shame.

Once I tried to go outside to skip a few dances and my boyfriend joined for a few minutes. I was just fine staring into the beautiful night sky for a while making myself comfortable not having to make conversation, to meet another person I could add to my personal jury list. The bamboo colonial style chairs were enough to keep me company for a while. My boyfriend did not agree, which led to a silly discussion.

There I was. Trapped between the person that I wanted to be, and the confused and lost person that I really was.

Not wanting to leave me alone, he kept talking to me about going back inside. With each try, my intestines pulled a little tighter. There I was. Trapped between the person that I wanted to be, and the confused and lost person that I really was.

At some point in your life you might have heard of the song ´Dancing Queen` by Abba. You know when people admire the girl that really gets the party going – I wanted to be that girl. So, I pulled through up until about 3:30 when I finally gave in to my stomach pains.

How do you feel about social events? Do you look forward to them or do they make you cringe?

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We are a team of three feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

 Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!