1. When you set unexpected plans. I need to have my schedule mapped out ahead of time. I want to know what I’m doing weeks in advance — or at least twenty-four hours in advance. If you change our plans at the last second, or ask me to hang out right now without warning me ahead of time, then you probably won’t see me. The surprise is going to be too much for me to handle.
2. Any type of socializing. You might consider public speaking completely different than making a phone call to order pizza or asking the waitress for more ketchup — but for me, it’s pretty much the same. Texting someone is going to make me just as uncomfortable as standing in front of a crowd. Even though the level of interaction might be small, it’s still going to feel like a huge deal to me.
3. Uncertainty. Uncertainty of any kind makes me uncomfortable. Before I agree to go anywhere, I need as much information as possible. What should I wear? What does the parking situation look like? How early should I get there? What time is it going to be over? If I don’t know what to expect, I’m going to run through a million different scenarios and get upset about a million different things that probably aren’t even relevant.
4. When you break the rules. Since I hate unpredictability, I hate when people break the rules — especially since I’m never going to do the same. When there are rules, I know what to expect. I can plan ahead. I know what to do. But when someone goes off script, I don’t know what to expect — and I’m not great at thinking on my feet.
5. When you make a mistake. I want other people to like me, so I’m never going to point out when they hurt my feelings. I’m never going to tell the hairdresser or the nail technician that the style isn’t right. I’m going to live with whatever happens, even if it makes me miserable. I avoid conflict, even when it’s miniscule.
6. When you change the plans at the last second. I have to prepare myself for social situations. If we’re heading to a restaurant, I’m going to look up the menu ahead of time to pick my food, and I’m going to look up directions, so I know where to drive. Changing the meeting spot at the last second might not be a big deal to you, but it throws me off completely.
7. When you point out my anxiety. I’m not snobby or shy or quiet. I just need a while to get warmed up to new people. And if you start teasing me about how quiet I am, I’m never going to warm up to you. I’m going to want nothing to do with you.
8. Falling asleep to silence. I don’t love when my surroundings are too loud — but I don’t love complete silence, either. I need to have something on in the background in order to fall asleep at night. Otherwise, my mind is going to drift to dark places. I need to keep myself distracted, so I don’t overwhelm myself with what-ifs.