Overcoming social anxiety at one of the most anticipated events of the year
By Sylvana Uribe Community Editor
This fall marks what will hopefully be my last year as an undergraduate student. With that in mind, I want to use this upcoming year to be more active in my campus community. Instead of my eyes glazing over lists of upcoming school events, I’ll take a chance on socializing. And that’s how this socially anxious soul found herself at this year’s Smorgasport.
Smorgasport got its start 16 years ago as a way for students to come out for a night of amusement. In addition to carnival style rides and inflatable activities, food trucks and live entertainment were also present to keep attendees content.
It seemed fitting to fully immerse myself into the night by joining other screaming people on the round up ride. The darker tones of my knuckles turned white as I wrapped my fingers around the ride’s metal bars. As I stood there waiting for the ride to take off, its bright lights suddenly went dark. The ride lost connection to a power source.
Essentially waiting in the dark with other confused, restless people was not an ideal situation for my anxiety. However, the sense of regret didn’t have much time to set in before the colorful lights sprung up again and we were lifted into the fading blue of the evening’s sky.
Laughter and chatter erupted from every inch of Lot 3. The atmosphere was light as representatives from campus organizations incorporated curious passersbys into their conversations. Crowds flocked to the main stage to cheer on salsa dancers while swaying along to the music. Those snaking through the masses stopped to watch members of Grupo Folklorico Mexica trace dainty patterns on people’s faces with cold paint.
The Union Weekly joined in on the night’s festivities by inviting people to partake in its confession booth. People anonymously submitted their confessions and many of them were posted on Twitter, including my own. I’ll of course never admit which one was mine. The embarrassing and hilarious tweets showcasing these submissions are on display under the handle @UnionWeekly.
As the evening progressed, I gradually started to feel overwhelmed. The very reason I had avoided so many previous school events were because I get drained from navigating through booming crowds. My coping mechanism is to mentally check-out and isolate myself from the situation at hand. As I retreated to being alone with my thoughts, I wondered if I had jumped into the social pool a little too quickly.
This mindset was interrupted when talking to Monique Harris, a member of the Academic Senate and graduate student in the school counseling department. She described her days as being so demanding that time for amusement had to be scheduled.
“With so much going on, I realized I needed to enjoy myself and be a part of the university,” Harris said. “It’s a part of my self-care because I know it’s something I need with the stress that’s going to pile up, so let me get me some fun in now and kind of ride the rest of the semester out.”
With so many responsibilities constantly clashing, I connected with Harris and accepted that my time at Smorgasport was worthwhile.