Anthropophobia – Fear of people or society.

I am painfully shy. Many of you who know me might be taken aback by this statement, but I assure you, it’s true.

If I am at an event and know no one, and there is no alcohol around, chances are I will not speak to anyone. I will probably also leave early, if possible. I will stand against the wall (or behind a tree, depending on locale), and do anything in my power to eavesdrop without drawing any attention to myself. I will most likely be reminding myself that breathing is a good and desirable activity, and I will be flushed. If it were to be monitored, I’m sure that my blood pressure would be elevated. I have a social phobia – nothing that completely inhibits me from appearing in public, but it can become problematic – and occasionally painful.

Case in point: On Saturday, I agreed to go miniature golfing with the architect, and what I thought, at the time, 3-4 of his friends from a past job, none of whom I had met. We arrived, and (I) discovered (the architect had known, just hadn’t told me) that it was a birthday party for a former co-worker. There were maybe 15-18 people there, and I knew no one except the architect. In fact, he only knew the birthday girl, as the other common bond they had flaked.

I don’t think I said anything to anyone besides my architect for at least an hour. I couldn’t even mini golf correctly at the beginning, I was so upset. The whole situation was bad enough, but it was mini golf – and there was an arcade. And once, I had to walk through the arcade all alone to find the bathroom. Do you know who was in the arcade? Seven million unsupervised children. Something I hate even more than strange adult – strange children.

After the mini golf (in which I’d managed to articulate congratulations for a few well-placed putts), they gave us tokens to play in the arcade. I have a strange passion for Skee-ball, so the architect & I headed to that section, but just as I finished my first game, I turned towards my beloved – the patient man who had been coaching me through this horrific event with strangers with sympathy and empathy; the guy who knew how hard this was for me – for the expected accolades, and WAS GONE!!!!

Yes, he’d left me to fend for myself. I quickly spent the rest of my tokens on that game and then waited for him to come back. He didn’t. Then began the ever increasingly frantic search through the hell that was this Vegas without alcohol and with children – which which completely ruins the point of Vegas. After about 10 minutes, I found him. We left soon afterwards, and only then could I relax.

This may help, in part, explain the extreme anxiety I feel when I think too hard about moving to Portland. I have lived in LA for seven years – as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere in my entire life. The best friends that I have here have only been good friends for the past 1-4 years (although I have known some for longer). Which, according to my careful calculations, means that I have at least 3 friendless years in Portland coming up.

This will probably not be true. I had friends when I first moved to LA – I met them at work, and when that job dissolved, most of those friendships did as well. Some of those friends moved away, and we are still friends, just not local friends. I have never truly been all alone and friendless in my entire life. And, I will have the architect.

But, this is the hardest thing I’ve done as an adult – I think the only thing that makes me hyperventilate more is the thought that in one year, I will be buying a house with my husband and switching to full-time freelance writing/consulting.

Excuse me – I need to lie down.


  1. John

    Heh welcome fellow sufferer you are not alone.

    I know how ironic that sounds seeing as that’s actually what those of us suffering from anthropophobia want the most – to be left alone and cozy 🙂

    Best wishes in Portland. You will do well. Take it from me, one who lives in London – and faces a daily commute on the Tube with the crush of the masses. It’s doable and with your spouse’s understanding and help it will even be fun. Really.

  2. Hello. I just wanted to thank you for writing this piece. Im like this too. I’ve suffered in silence for a long time. I havn’t always been like this, just the last 10 years (I’m 31). It’s been hard I think for my friends too with my pulling away without reason. Becoming increasingly content with being alone yet in the back of your mind knowing it shouldn’t be like this. Not a lot of people take it very well when you tell them you love them completely but you feel like you might have a stroke (not literally of course) if they don’t leave this minute. To be an artist who can’t cope with an audience. To have a family and be unable to accept their support. To always tell yourself “Nah, that girl is better off without me.” It’s not always easy to put a positive spin on it. However you did that for me today and I thank you. Very much.

  3. Crystal

    I’d like to be brief:

    Anthropophobia= Fear of people/human contact. Maybe due to a belief that people are essentially cruel. A belief probably formed due to previous experiences; Not your fault.

    Truth= That fear is irrational; it is not true; it is a lie; The earth is flat kind of a lie. People also possess a lot of beauty. Depends on what you/we would like to concentrate on. Ugliness vs Beauty.

    Solution = Grace through Jesus Christ. He is not called the Great Healer for nothing. Forgiveness= letting go = Yeilding to the Father or Potter.

    Result = A life that is fullfilled and happy and makes a contribution (does not hide behind a tree, speaking from personal experience) = A life of purpose bringing healing = Ability to recognize and meet a need = Grace = Replaced by a “Love for People” !!! 🙂

    Grace and Peace be to you all

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