So I went to the party as an experiment, not in pretending to be confident, but rather in seeing what would happen if I stopped lending credence to my "I'm shy" theory. I had such a great time that my wife had to drag me away from the party (pretty much a first for us), and a whole host of new experiences became available to me.
When I see something that triggers anxiety, whether it's an actual physical manifestation or just in the mind's eye, I distract myself until my anxiety subsides. In my quest to recalibrate from distressed to de-stressed, I have found the following four quick-tricks to be, easy, practical, and effective anxiety antidotes.
Lent, for me, is not about (and has never been about) sacrifice or penance or appeasing some unexamined heritage. It's about interrogative love, passionate justice, and learning how to wonder again in the midst of all the awful, awful sadness. It's about asking how beauty might occur in the midst of our fragile, decaying lives.