A Party For Parting

Think of all the ways you could humiliate yourself! You look fat in that shirt! (Ok, I’ll change, yet again…No, you are fat, all of your clothes make you look huge, what good will changing do?) What if people see me eating? What if I’m so anxious I can’t carry on a natural, intelligent conversation? (Oh that lovely Mary, anxiety about anxiety itself).

As I left the house in tears yesterday evening I was headed to an anorexic’s worst nightmare: a party. I left a pile of abandoned clothes on my floor and headed out into the terrifying world of social eating, made more treacherous by the tornado to which ED was constantly adding hot air.

My dad starts in is new editorial position in Columbus on Monday the 11th and will be in Chicago to wrap up a consulting project for a good part of this week. So, last night we held a benefit for an organization to which he is very committed/ going away party at a local brewery (we are still Wisconsinites, after all). While Dad and Jane were off on their English adventure last week, Mum and I planned and prepared the food. I knew the ingredients (and hence the nutrition facts) present in most everything we served, yet I grew increasingly anxious as the party time approached.

As people began to arrive I was weak at the knees with my signature anxious jitters; my older sister and I stood awkwardly in a corner to take stock of the situation before diving in. It looked intimidating to say the least – look at all these people I sort of know, did I mention that they’re all eating too? But as more friends (and some complete strangers) came by I relaxed. At a party people are absorbed in conversation, beer and crispy cheese wafers. No one is going to notice my occasional moments of awkwardness. After a while, once this profound realization began to sink in a bit, I managed to mingle and chat (and even eat a few homemade corn chips and red pepper).

“Mingling,” I have deduced to be a skill, one that takes years and many a party to master. From my observations one key to mingling semi-successfully is to mingle with a buddy (sister, friend, etc) Then, when you run out of things to discuss with your parents’ friends you needn’t stand there looking socially inept. You buddy will pick up the conversation and save you from total awkwardness.

I went into the evening just hoping to survive without tears. When I looked at my watch nearly three and a half hours later I couldn’t help but be proud of myself. I was ridiculously self-conscious, there’d no denying that), but I got through a social gathering alive and smiling (many thanks to friend who understands exactly how difficult and anxiety-ridden these situations can be).

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