Raise you're hand if you're socially awkward...actually, don't. You'll likely feel very uncomfortable if I ask you to draw this attention to yourself. In social situations, I often appear to be thriving. I remember the look of shock on students' faces when I would share with them that I actually hate being in social situations. "But, you're so good at talking to people," they'd often say. I attribute that to the socialization skills I've developed to combat some of my intrusive thoughts that would force me to stay in my home all the time if I let them win.
#4 on the list of "Things People with Anxiety Wish You Knew During the Holidays": It's NOT Personal
I pride myself in the coping mechanisms I've developed to help with my anxiety. Growing up, they weren't always healthy. And, to error on the side of transparency, I can't tell you that every strategy I use to cope as an adult is healthy. However, one major mechanism I use/have used is avoidance (I'm still not sure if it's healthly or not, and I don't know if it matters either way). It's caused me to flake on some plans, it's caused me to call into work, it's caused me to hide away in my office.
During the holidays, there's really no place to hide. The expectations to be places are high. The guilt when you hint on not attending certain events is palpable. From work Christmas parties to family get togethers, the holidays are draining for every type of person. It can be almost debilitating for your resident introverts or friends and loved ones with anxiety.
When someone says, "where's Emily," or finds me hiding in another room alone during the joyous gatherings, it can be a bit jarring. Why doesn't she want to be with us? Why would she hide away while everyone is sharing time together? I'm not taking a moment to myself because I don't love you or want to be around you. I'm taking a moment of peace and quiet to recharge, so I CAN be with you. It wouldn't matter if you were my brother or sister or a complete stranger; the kind of socialization required during the holidays takes a lot of recharging to sustain. Please don't take it personally when someone needs a minute to themselves (and this goes with people who are extroverts at heart). It has nothing to do with you; it has everything to do with their overstimulation and need to be recharged.