The Social Evolution

I pace near the front door, waiting anxiously for the mail. When the familiar white truck finally turns the corner, I bolt outside. The postman hands me the box. My spirits soar as I examine the package.

My lacy black dress from Kohls.com has arrived, just in time for tonight’s party at my husband’s office. Now that my dress is in my hands, it’s time to conquer the greatest challenge – the part I’ve been anticipating for months: socializing with the party guests.

It’s not the first time I’ve gone to the Beaujolais party at my husband’s law firm. I attended last year as his fiancÃ?©, but it hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped. After making a quick round through the jam-packed building, I’d ducked into his office – flushed and panicked. It wasn’t a full-blown anxiety attack, but it was enough to send me running outside for air, escaping hours before the party had wrapped.

I’m determined to make this year’s Beaujolais party – which is named for the wine – a success. After I slip into my new black dress and apply metallic grey eye shadow and crimson lipstick, I arrive at my husband’s office for my debut.

I spot my husband immediately and clutch his hand. He leads me throughout the building, stopping to chat with business associates. I make small talk – surprised that anxiety isn’t immediately choking me. I also snap photographs on my digital camera, thankful that my husband’s boss’ wife has given me a job this year: to document the party through images.

On our second loop around the office, my husband and I stop at the hors d’oeuvres table. I am poured a glass of the signature 2013 Beaujolais. It immediately kicks into my system, calming me even further.

But it’s not only the Beaujolais that is helping at this year’s party. For the 9 months I’ve been married to David, I’ve made an effort to brush up on my social skills. Being an attorney’s wife doesn’t allow for much social anxiety – especially during holiday parties and events.

From personal experience, here are the top strategies I’d recommend for coping with your own bout of social anxiety this season:

1. Take on a task. As I mentioned before, David’s boss’ wife gave me the job of “party photographer,” and it helped immensely. To have a task besides chatting with strangers helps to combat anxiety.

2. Practice for the main event. Since last year’s holiday party resulted in anxiety, I took matters into my own hands months before this year’s party by getting to know some of the main player’s at my husband’s office. I took his boss’ wife up on a lunch date at the country club, and it helped to chat with her one-on-one before the event. I also organized a brunch with my husband’s co-worker, his wife, and us. That way, I felt like I knew at least some people at the big party!

3. Dress to the nines. Last year, I remember not having a thing to wear for the Beaujolais party. This year, I planned ahead by ordering a dress online. Although it arrived just in the nick of time, I felt more appropriately dressed this year in my lacy LBD. It’s worth it to shop ahead. Dressing like a million bucks will help you feel like a million bucks. That I assure you.

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