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We have all dealt with that one friend who cancels at the last minute practically every time they accept an invite to go out. Well, unfortunately, I am that friend, and I promise, I don’t cancel because I’m a flake, I cancel because I am plagued with anxiety.

Now hear me out before you jump to conclusions and assume that I am making excuses for my behavior. While I am trying to excuse myself to an extent, I promise I don’t like being this way. However, no matter how much I may want to attend that party, or that wedding, for whatever reason something begins to take place within my mind that I have no control over.

As the moments pass, getting me closer and closer to the night of attendance, a cycle begins to transpire. I worry that for whatever reason, I’m not good enough to be around a group of people and that as always I will be sitting there in silence trying to think of something to say, without sounding like a total idiot. I may actually even play out the sequence of events that will take place once I arrive. Trying to make eye contact with people I don’t know and even people I know will make me perspire in fear. And then, there’s that whole talking thing again. I get so lost inside of my head when I am around people, when they speak to me, I often go into auto-pilot mode, and start randomly jumbling words together.

I worry that I may say the wrong thing, or that I may not say much of anything at all. I worry about what people are thinking about me. I worry that I may look terrible, sound terrible, or come off as a terrible person. Do these people even like me, or did they invite me because they felt as though they had to? I become so exhausted by my thoughts that I lose sleep. I can’t think because I am so worried that I won’t be able to function.

And then, the excuses begin to take hold. Maybe I should stay at home, I need to finish my laundry anyways. I’m starting to feel sick and maybe my back is hurting too bad to go. If I go, will it turn out that I should have stayed home anyways, because well…..anxiety?

Of course, my friends become so frustrated, that I am barely able to keep any friends. My family probably thinks I am a flaky derelict just making excuses to get out of plans with them. And while the end part of that may be true, I promise I truly do want to get out and do things. On the rare occasion that I actually do get out and try to have fun, I usually do. But that is the last thought going through my mind when I am planning for that big night out. On the contrary, every thing but a good time is running through my mind, and I just break down.

So please, if you have a friend that is always canceling plans, take a moment to be patient with them. Understand that they may not be the asshole you think they are. Instead, they may be suffering from social anxiety.