I wrote this poem in a bathroom stall, while my heart was beating fast and my hands were running through my hair nervously. I was hiding.
I was hiding because I had to ask some lady in some office a question I can’t remember now. I had walked past the office about two or three times, but there were other people in there, asking their own questions. My irrational mind didn’t want to go in while there were other people in the room. I guess I thought they’d judge me or something. After walking in front of the office for the second or third time I realized how ridiculous I looked, so I hid in the bathroom, praying that when I got out, the office would be empty and I could ask my question without other people hearing me.
While I was in the bathroom I realized something. This wasn’t the first time something like this happened to me. I’d been afraid of social situations like these for a long time. I realized something else. Whenever I felt nervous, insecure or afraid in these moments, I always touched my hair. I would pat it down, pull it up in a ponytail, let it down, twist a strand around my finger, and move it to cover up as much of my face… It was a nervous action I’d been doing for a long time and I realized it there, in that bathroom. I guessed that, for some reason, touching my hair made me feel a little bit more safe.
So to pass the time, and to quiet my mind, and to ease my beating heart and my nervous hands, I opened the notes app on my phone and wrote the first part of this poem. Later on that day, I finished it in the shower.
To whoever goes through things like these on a daily basis; where you can’t seem to make yourself engage in certain social situations because they make your heart race, or your palms sweat, or your stomach churn, or you hands run nervously through your hair: you are not alone. Around 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder.
To those 15 million, and all the millions more that are affected by this disorder, I thought of you when I wrote this poem. I know sometimes its easy to feel powerless, but honestly, every time we are able to move past our sweaty palms, or our quickened heart rate and do whatever it is we need to do, it is a battle won and we should be proud of those moments.