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The Road of Social Anxiety

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

by Ben VanHook, Divergent Adventures Brand Ambassador, Advocate

As I start to put the keys in my black 2011 Ford Fusion you jumped in to accompany me on my journey home. As I put on my seatbelt, you ask me “did they really enjoy your company or were they just being polite”? “Will they ever invite you again?”. I ignore you as I put my car in reverse, backing my crooked car out of the garage as if I were backing awkwardly out of a conversation. I am notoriously bad at parking. Sometimes there’s not enough space between lines and I’m worried about wrecking or touching the cars next to me. Sometimes I’m parked in an awkward position due to no fault of my own but to the disposition and the posture of those around me. Simply, parking sucks. And sometimes there’s no way out of the garage assuming I can even find my car without hitting the alarm.

But I found my way out that night. As I put the car into drive, I put on my favourite song, pancakes for dinner, by Lizzie Mcalpine. But as soon as I do, you ask me, “what did YOU eat for dinner”? “Were you a slob, did you eat too much? Did you live in gluttony tonight?” “Or did you not eat enough and offend the cook?”. I fight back your questions defending the indefensible social sins I may or may not have committed. But it’s no use as your pestering persists.

Driving is a dance with dozens of strangers unknowing of the next move. For example, people could forget to turn their blinkers off forcing one to slow down for no reason thinking they want to switch lanes. Some people don’t think upon actions on causing others to take evasive action. Some arseholes think it’s a GREAT IDEA to use the shoulder of the road to pass slower cars unwilling to wait 5 seconds and expect those same drivers to invite them back into this society of cars. People can be too unpredictable and communication is extremely important whether it’s flashing your blinkers or flashing the bird. Sometimes there’s a breakdown in communication, not with other drivers, but with myself as I make wrong turn after wrong turn on a dark road and end up scared to death on the highway of hell in the dead of night with strangers blinding me with their headlights and blaring their horns

As I get off the freeway, at last liberated from cars and trucks, you ask if I made anyone mad. Did a cut someone off in our conversation? Did I misjudge the shifts in topics? Did I speak too fast, too long, too much? Did I get too close making others nervous? Was I unpredictable? Each conversation and topic you etch in my mind... did I say enough or did I say too much?”

As I turn into my driveway, I turn out my headlights, put the car in park, take the keys out of ignition, take my foot off the pedal, and I feel relieved. Alas I made it safely to my destination. But that relief was short lived. I remember you still exist. And as you exit the vehicle your final question haunts and fills me with dread for the rest of the night. For the rest of the week. “What did you forget?”.

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