10 Situations That Give Me Anxiety (But Are Totally Mundane in Nature)

I read an article recently on Thought Catalog about social situations that gave the author anxiety. I thought it was so hilarious and true to my own experiences, being that I’m also an inherently anxious person, that I had to write a list of my own.

1. Paying for the bill among a group of friends at a restaurant

Credit Card and Restaurant Bill on Table
Paying for the bill, among a group of people, at a restaurant gives me so much anxiety.

Once I catch wind that the server is heading to our table, I almost brace myself for what’s to come next. My recent observations have led me to notice that no one touches the check for at least 10 minutes, mostly because we’re either still eating the remainder of dinner or we’re so engrossed in the conversation, that we’ve all probably forgotten we were at a restaurant to begin with. But who’s going to touch the check first?! Rule of thumb: Whoever touches the check first has to do the math to figure out how much everyone contributes. That’s why I never touch the check first. I SUCK at math.

2. Giving hugs or shaking hands

How do you know when it is appropriate to hug someone or to maintain the formality of shaking hands? Is it after one introduction? Or do I wait until we’ve had a conversation longer than 5 minutes? Since I never know what’s the appropriate amount of time to switch from shaking hands to giving hugs, I just don’t touch people at all. I instead give a nod and smile. That’s not rude, right? Unless of course the person initiates the hug first, then I’m all for it.

3. Introductions/comments during a round-robin

A round-robin is an activity in which a group is asked to either give a short introduction about themselves and perhaps add a unique fact, like which countries you’ve traveled to in the past. This happens often in a lot of settings I find myself in, whether it’s during the first day of class, a work meeting, or even social gatherings. During this activity, I’m usually too busy trying to come up with my own answer to listen to everyone else. If I am listening, it’s only to check if anyone has taken my answer before me. Oh you’re favorite book was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? Ugh, that was mine too!

4. Elevator rides

It must be that awkward and uncomfortable silence that gets me. It’s even worse when the stretch of time to get to my floor is longer than 2 minutes. No, please don’t start a banal conversation with me. Yes, I’m going to just stare at the screen that shows each number of the floors we’re passing. Smart phones have made these elevator trips much less agonizing, especially when I am immersed in the music humming through my earphones. No, don’t ask me what song I’m listening to. I have these earphones on for a reason.

5. That stretch of time when you know your period is supposed to happen but it hasn’t

I’m rarely ever late anymore because of birth control (HALLELUJAH!) but it doesn’t spare me the torture I’ve endured during the few times when I’ve been late. Suddenly, you recount all the times you had unprotected sex — Damn it, I knew I shouldn’t have lagged on taking my pill that day! Pretty soon, you’re stressing out because it’s been 4 days and still no signs of bloating, tender breasts or sudden cravings for tacos. (Note: Be safe — wrap it up! Or if you’re in a monogamous relationship and everyone has had all the appropriate tests, try your best to remember your pill. Or try an IUD.)

6. Chewing food in my cubicle at work and thinking that everyone can hear me

I’ve been self-conscious about my chewing since the day a former coworker teased me for chewing loudly. I was in the break room of the office and she was sitting at the front desk. I was rushing to finish my food when she called out, “I can hear you in there, Miss Munch-Munch-Munchies!” BUT I WAS EATING CHIPS. Nonetheless, do you see why I would be traumatized? Now when I’m sitting alone in my cubicle at work, I just know that my colleagues nearby are muttering to themselves about the loud munch-munch-munching.

7. Ambiguous text messages

Screencap of text message

So when you say, “Looking forward to it,” does that mean you’re REALLY looking forward to it, or are you saying it because that’s the polite thing to say? And is your idea of what you’re looking forward to the same thing that I’m thinking about? And does the use of the period mean that you’re not as into this meeting as I am, because if you were excited you would have used an exclamation mark or maybe even added a happy face. You know what, I’m just going to call you.

8. Attending a gathering at a house where I’m expected to take my shoes off

Nothing is worse than realizing you haven’t done all of your laundry so you knowingly wear the ugliest socks EVER. These aren’t just ugly socks in that they have cartoon rubber ducks on them and you used to wear them in the 6th grade or whatever. NO these are dirty old socks that have holes in more than one toe. In short, they’re hideous and your mother would be ashamed. Oh I have to take my shoes off to prevent any dirt getting onto your just-washed carpet? Actually I can’t stay long, I have this thing… outside of town.

9. Ordering food at a counter

Some casual restaurants do this, requiring you to order all of the food at a counter before sitting. I get anxious about this because I am hopelessly indecisive about ordering food. At a sit-down restaurant, I count the minutes before the server comes back to take our order and the pressure is at an all time high for me to find a dish that is not only satisfactory but is meeting my craving for that day. Do I want chicken or beef today? Salad sounds good, but I’m not sure if that will fill me up. If I’m paying for my own bill then I should probably order something cheap. At least at a sit-down restaurant you can just tell the server to come back, but when you take this long to order at the counter, before you know it, a line of twenty people is behind you. So what’s the special for today? Yes, I’ll take that.

10. Taking selfies for your Facebook profile

Friends taking a selfie or ussie photo
I am so bad at taking selfie or ussie photos (selfies with more than one person). The angle of the photo is never flattering.

I am the complete opposite of photogenic. Others have been blessed with this trait. Some people have a side they love to have their pictures taken from, or maybe they’re OK with multiple takes, but for me, I can do all of the multiple takes with several poses and I will not look any different. Plus, I think the whole concept of taking photos today is silly, especially selfies. I think what’s most awkward is to be with someone who is taking a selfie. Remember when taking photos was for the purpose of capturing memories, and not to post a new Facebook profile photo? And since when did taking photos turn into mini photo shoots? We’re just having lunch!

By Luann

Feminist, Pinay, coffee lover, boba aficionado and pop culture enthusiast. Current graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies. Dwelling in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon but always California dreaming. You can also read more of her articles at

4 replies on “10 Situations That Give Me Anxiety (But Are Totally Mundane in Nature)”

I agree on ALL those things. I had no idea I was so anxious… But, really, the round robin thing would kill me. SO MANY TIMES in my life I’ve immediately forgotten someone’s name because all through the introduction I was so focussed on not making a complete idiot of myself. And spent weeks letting it get more and more awkward, desperately trying to find out that name. Oh. The Horror.

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