I get to enjoy anxiety most days, but when I’m in a restaurant – it really comes alive!
When I enter a restaurant I am struck with immediate feelings of “I have no right to be here”, “everyone is looking at me” and “everyone is thinking what a weird fat blob I am and I must immediately throw myself out of the nearest window”.
Of course, this is probably not what people are thinking and I have every right to be giving this restaurant my money in return for food and sub-par customer service, just like everyone else.
But once I’ve stepped into the place it is the soul purpose of my very being to get to the safety of my table as soon as possible, and stay there until we need to leave.
If I was a therapist, (which you’ll be aghast to hear I am not) I would say that my anxiety in a restaurant is down to my shockingly low self-esteem mixed with the shockingly low standards of customer service.
I live in the south of England, so providing any sort of customer service is not really high on the waiting staff’s agenda, though I’ve recently been to the north and they’re not big on it there either.
Maybe providing poor customer service is a nationwide thing. Finally, a country united!
“Have you booked?”
“Sit over there, order on the app and don’t bother me again”
“Fantastic, thank you so much”
What is this “Self-Esteem” thing?
So yes, my chronically fucked self-esteem has been around for most of my life and it’s meant that I’ve never felt comfortable going to public places E.g. Supermarkets, bowling alleys, knocking shops etc.
If you’ve ever had the delight to see me in such establishments (lucky you), you’ll see that I look fine, but that’s just because I’m an excellent actress. Underneath, I am trying my best not to look at anyone for longer than is socially acceptable (0.0000001 seconds) and to keep my head down to avoid any sort of attention.
My brother is the other way, if there’s an ounce of attention not on him in a restaurant (from any diner, not just the people he’s with) his laugh will boom louder than Brian Blessed’s to ensure that everyone knows he is here, and he will not give a bloody hoot.
My theory is that he took all the self-esteem supplies from our mother’s womb, meaning there was nothing for me when I was being made 4 years later… I’m sure there is the science to back this up.
Other Everyday Anxieties
Other everyday places that I get anxiety include:
- My local Tesco – I know the woman behind the till is judging my 3 chocolate bars a day habit
- A bar – Quick, must drink my first pint in order to quiet my anxiety so I can start to relax and enjoy my evening out
- The phone – Don’t call me, why are you calling me? Is Whatsapp down? Have you tried a carrier pigeon? WOT IS THIS, THE 1920S? SEND ME A TEXT!
I know how ridiculous this sounds. I really do. And it’s something I need to work on, like now…
Tips & Advice
Do you also get anxious going out for dinner? Well, we must ruddy well sort this out now, dear friend! No more will we be the scared little mouse at dinner, we will be the life of the dinner! (Or just perhaps feel a bit more comfortable)
My most excellent tips and useless advice:
- Go to restaurants/the places that make you anxious more and more, you’ve got to get outside your comfort zone as much as possible for it to become normal. You’ll soon be walking into a restaurant saying “Table for 4 please, no we haven’t booked, we want a window table and we’d like to order straight away.” COULD YOU IMAGINE DOING THAT NOW? HA, NO. (Damn the people who have the confidence to go into a restaurant and do that ((I’d like to point out that there is a difference between being confident and being a dick)).
- Read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now book and get out of your head and into the present moment. Instead of “that table over there are talking about me” it’s “oh look, the cutlery still has food stains on them, the table is sticky and this table wobbles” stay present in the moment, and if the table over there are talking about you… great! Let them talk, what on earth could they be saying that will still be affecting your life tomorrow? Nothing. Enjoy your food and fart as you go past them on the way out.
Or failing that you could always try this thing my friend does, which is pretend you’re famous and walk into that restaurant like the place is over the fecking moon to have your amazing self eat at their establishment.
Which they bloody well should be.