Tabletop Games Vs. My Social Anxiety

A little something about me; I’m a socially anxious introvert and interacting with people is my worst nightmare. Alien social interactions (such as playing card games I do not know of with people I’ve never met before) make me want to sink through the floor like Bayonetta during a game over.

Fortunately for me, at the beginning of week two seminar, before we had to break off into random groups and play tabletop games together (the horror), it was made known to everyone in the class that if we weren’t comfortable in these types of social situations, we were free to leave. This was a HUGE relief for me, and so naturally, I stayed.

I certainly could have left at the beginning of the class and saved myself from what was to be a very stressful hour and a half. But that would have been an easy out, and I’m incredibly stubborn and proud, so I ended up playing The Botch (Cryme Pays Edition) with four other people.

So here was my dilemma; do I sit back and hope that everyone else forgets that I’m there, or do I and attempt actually to play and possibly embarrass myself? The former option would leave me ashamed of my lack of a spine, and the latter could make me an emotional wreck. For some reason, I chose to embarrass myself.

A general problem that the entire group had was that none of us knew how to play. The back of the box explained that each player has a role card, and item card, and the first to get ten diamonds wins. Then we were left to our own devices.

We had to figure out the minutiae rules between ourselves. This meant that I had to draw more attention to myself than I otherwise would have. I’m surprised that no one commented on how much my hands were shaking at the time, and my emotional state could be summed up as: “palms sweaty, mum’s spaghetti”, but I still did it. I contributed and joked around and helped figure out how to play, and I even took the initiative and attacked other players (in-game, of course).

The fact that none of us knew what we were doing, and that nobody was taking it too seriously made it easier for me to overcome my anxiety. The conversation focused mostly on the game, and so I felt less pressure than I usually would when talking to people. And while talking to a small group of people and figuring out how to play a card game correctly might seem like nothing, it was a massive deal for me. Taking baby steps to improve my social anxiety has been a big part of my life for a long time, and while it does get easier, it can be difficult to see that in the moment. I’m glad that I didn’t leave at the beginning of class. Thanks to the more relaxed setting, I was comfortable interacting in a way that I usually find incredibly stressful, and this helped make it a little easier for me in the future.

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