Arré Checklist: Three Kinds of Anxiety that Will Find You at Every Social Outing


Arré Checklist: Three Kinds of Anxiety that Will Find You at Every Social Outing

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Like it or not, in the world of unexciting small talk and anti-social socialising, outings are almost always accompanied by an unwelcome attendant: your anxiety. It’ll make an appearance when you least expect it, almost like an Ajay Devgn film which then proceeds to wreak havoc on your sanity, dreams of having a good time, and ensures you question every decision you’ve ever made. It’s the kind of anxiety that gives good ol’ harmless FOMO a bad name.

In fact, it also has the ability to make Sting’s uber-romantic ballad “Every Breath You Take” take a sinister turn once you realise how aptly it can be voiced by your all-consuming anxiety.

“Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I’ll be watching you”

Chances are that you’ve already met various iterations of this brand of anxiety that makes an appearance every time you dress up and step out in your finery for a night out with colleagues, a drunkathon with friends, or a Tinder date. And on some occasions, you may have also thought that you’ve emerged victorious. But, nothing in the world can prepare you for these three kind of anxieties that are relentless, evil, and can exert more power on you than your neighbourhood parlour aunty.

Will my Instagram benefit from this outing?
You’ve put on that complicated dress you ordered from ASOS; the one that involves you sucking in your stomach for the entirety of the night and pretending that your body is that of a Barbie doll’s. Accessorising them are the pair of heels whose USP is carrying out a surgical strike against your feet. You’re out partying with your closest friends and there’s no way you can’t not have a great night. But, the only problem is you’ve invested way too much, and your Instagram hasn’t been updated for the last two weeks. At that point, you need something more than just the memory of having a good time. To put it simply, your specially curated social life online needs to benefit from this outing but your phone is on the verge of dying and your friends are too sloshed to stand straight. The anxiety of manipulating your friends and the situation in a way that you end up getting your dream picture will ensure you’ll physically drink LIITs but mentally be choosing the filter to go with the picture.

At any social outing, your anxiety will make an appearance when you least expect it, almost like an Ajay Devgn film.

What if tonight were the night I was going to meet my knight in shining armour?
You’ve just managed to cancel on a plan at the last minute and are mighty pleased with your cleverness. Who’d want to spend a night wasting money on food you don’t enjoy, wearing the deadly heels mentioned above? Certainly not you. As you’re about to settle in for the night with a box of Chinese takeout and an inviting Netflix homescreen, you commit the cardinal sin of checking your phone. On Instagram, you come across jubilant pictures of your friends making merry and pouting their night away, surrounded by strangers. It’s at that moment a damaging thought takes residence in your head. What if cancelling the plan was the worst decision you’ve made in your life? What if tonight would have been one of those unforgettable nights that you’d been waiting for all your life? And, most importantly, what if tonight were the night you’d have met the one? It goes without saying that the takeout box and the comfort of your bed will lie untouched as you’ll spend all your evening frantically pacing across the room and refreshing the Instagram feed of your friends.

Will this meal be as comfortable and understanding as my bed?
The air is rife with small talk and fake laughs. After the pleasantries have been exchanged and gossip shared, there comes a moment when your table comprising the most funny bunch falls silent. You look across the room, at your phone, or at the ceiling to pass time while waiting for someone to break the silence and the rapidly evolving awkwardness. As the waiter reaches your table to serve your food and you lock eyes with your meal for the first time, a strange thought engulfs you. You find yourself thinking if the meal in front of you will be able to top the joy you usually feel when you’re tucked in bed. Will it be able to give you the same amount of comfort? As you slowly realise that your bed will always be the undisputed winner, you suddenly lose your appetite, and find yourself sitting through the entire evening waiting to leave.

So, the next time you decide to cancel a plan or wear your best dress for a night out, always remember to tell your friends you’re coming with a plus one.