Recently my mind has quieted a bit, part of a recent trend where my mind is not continually in overdrive. I can watch the colours of life as they pass and I don’t feel so confused and disconnected. I don’t see my life as one big old mess anymore with a whole pile of problems; I can realistically register my strengths and weaknesses. It’s nice.

I still fight against some mild form of social anxiety. No one who doesn’t know me very well would guess it. I cover it up with loud rambling, and have a lot of practice in putting up a front. Those skills carry me over that first initial hump of fear, and once I’ve gotten a chance to get used to my environment, I really can enjoy myself in other people’s company. Like, a lot. But I am still afraid of going into social situations on my own. I can be alone just fine, but to be thrust into a room full of people that I don’t know, or at least don’t know very well—that is a challenge.

I overcame just that challenge this week for a college friend’s birthday gathering. It was a completely new circle of people where I wouldn’t be buffered by my close friends, so I was wary going in. By the end of the night I was happily dancing at a place I’d never been to with someone I had only been properly introduced to five minutes before.

The party had started at the pub, then we moved to the birthday friend’s house. Everyone was “chillin’,” but I really wanted to dance. Mention was made of a place down the road; I wanted to go but the others weren’t keen. Except, that is, for this one guy I kind of know from college—he wanted to go, so he and I just left together and walked through the suburbs, back to the high street towards this sort of hybrid of a pub and club. He was pretty drunk but he guided me in, up the stairs to the music—it was a relief to hear such loud music. I met a few of the guy’s friends. I danced till closing time.

I figure if I can fend for myself even in this weird world that exists only at night, when you are able to become close to people you have only just met amongst the smoke and sweat, then I am doing pretty well. I was so happy to be oddly alone and unaccountable. I felt free. I was in a place that existed outside the usual constraints of school and schedules, of sober socialising and sticking with friends on nights out. I liked these strangers. I almost felt outside space and time. I got in at 4:30 without a second thought and still wasn’t tired. ♦