I have extreme social anxiety (SA) and experience physical symptoms like shortness of breath, shaky hands and voice during social situations.
I work for a really big multinational. We have quarterly/pre-holiday team lunches on the company. There was one pre-xmas/end of year team lunch on the mid Dec 2013, which I at first said I would go, and placed orders. I was panicking and having a racing heart on that day, so I skipped out by saying I had a sore throat (I was in the office).
The team farewell lunch for our leader was on 31 Dec, which I also skipped out on. And now, there is ANOTHER farewell lunch for both our team leader, and his superior. It is a department lunch this time, of about 30 people. How am I going to skip out on that?
I do not, absolutely do not want to go for this lunch (or any future lunches). At the first team lunch I went to, I panicked and it was so awkward and stressful for me (on the verge of crying because no one wanted to talk to me, and I didn't want to talk to anyone either). The lunches typically take an hour or more.
How do I avoid the lunches?
My SA makes it nigh on impossible to work properly as I get the jitters just conversing with colleagues - it has been 7 months, and I have no friends there still.
Is it OK I just offer to chip in on the farewell gift? I am not concerned about budget as it would be my way of saying 'sorry but no thanks for the lunch'? I don't even know them both as I don't work directly with them nor have I spoken to them (except the team leader).
Everyone in the office is aware of my social anxiety problems. It's easy to spot as I have physical symptoms like squeaky voice, timid air etc...
I am afraid to tell that to my boss because it might make them think I'm a liability. I'm afraid it would spoil my chances of a pay increment.
I do try my best, but the result is less spectacular as that of a normal social person.
I do extremely well one-on-one and in smaller groups. I was interviewed twice, first by a group of 3 and the 2nd by one person. I aced it I feel.