Nate: Is it really that unnerving?
Me: Yes! It’s like this: the company is small enough that I cannot be just an anonymous person who no one will notice and yet big enough that all these people will know about me is probably those short interactions in the break room. And if I make a fool of myself in there – spilling my food, exploding things in the microwave, stumbling over my words while making small talk, tripping over my own feet – that’s all they’ll have to go on. They won’t know the rest of me. Unlike with you, I can be a complete fool because I know you really know me, but they’re all sudo-strangers – not stranger enough that I can dismiss them, but not familiar enough for me to be at ease.
Nate: Being you sounds difficult.
Me: Yes, yes it is…
Fact: I give myself a mental pat on the back every time I face my fears or manage to mingle or socialize without being too self-conscious. It’s been harder post-college, and it’s a continual struggle, so sometimes I prefer to just avoid the anxiety and eat really early or really late in the work day.