Going to a formal event

Part of me wants to run screaming!

Part of me is curious and almost excited to get dressed up and pretend for a few hours.

Part of me wonders how I ended up agreeing to go…. ah yes lots of reasons.

First of all it is an annual fundraising event and I have known about it for years.  Heard it is a really nice event, I’ve even heard it is fun.  Have thought about going before but never went.  This year the invitation came in the mail while I was in the hospital.  My husband opened the event and was excited for me that I was invited to such an event.  I’m like “I’m invited every year, although maybe this is first year I actually got a formal invitation in the mail”  He says “You should go!”  He starts talking about how those things look good professionally.  Yes they do but I don’t like to cave into that stuff.  My boss has said I don’t have to go but he makes comments (of course) about people who do go to such events.  Sigh.

Flashbacks to prom occur:  What to wear is always the first issue.  I am not a dress kind of person to begin with.  I hate having to worry all day or night about how my legs are.  Sitting like a lady has never been really easy for me.  It just isn’t comfortable.  Not that I sit with my legs spread wide open but my relaxed position is not with my legs crossed or with them so tightly together I feel like a unnatural statue.  It just feels unnatural.  I went to prom because felt I would regret years later if I didn’t.  I don’t know what I expected but I hated it.  It wasn’t very fun, was whole thing with seating and who we sat with.  I just remember becoming overwhelmed and crying after leaving.  Based on who I went with he was probably too stoned to care that I was crying.  So at least I didn’t need to explain because I know I couldn’t.  Not sure I can completely explain now.  Maybe it was the realization that I just did not fit in.  I was different from everyone else and I didn’t know why.

And then the sensory issues!  Panty hose suck – I hear this from all women so not sure neurology matters but guessing it sucks far worse for those of us with sensory issues.  I usually take mine off in the car as soon as out of work or out of the event.  They are just awful constricting things.   It isn’t even the right pressure.  I love certain pressures but no not these – material is wrong & just not good pressure.  I have recently started wearing tights which are slightly better but don’t look right with certain suits and probably not with formal wear.  Depending on the gown you have to wear particular undergarments which starts a whole other issue.

So I start to lean towards not going.  Plus someone pointed out that maybe shouldn’t go to allow bigger donor purchase the seat since clearly I was going to pay the minimum and not have a large donation to give or pledge no matter how much I believe in the cause or how fantastic the speaker is.  Okay I won’t worry about going and that seems like a good reason not to go.

So then I got invited to the birthday party for the Director/Department chair of the area the fundraiser is for.  It was going to be a fun/potluck and I would know most people there.  A good friend/co-worker that I work really well with was organizing the party.  So I agreed to at least stop in since I probably couldn’t eat.  She assured me there would be food that I could eat.  So I went.

The birthday “girl” saw me and made a point of hugging me and saying glad I was back.  When she gave her “speech” she was talking about her vision and why this fundraiser was so important.  I really want to support the cause.

One of the organizers for the fundraiser came and asked me if I was attending.  oh crap.  I start to explain my concerns.  Not the clothing issues but about taking a seat from a big donor.  I was encouraged to come and that she was certain all the tables weren’t filled anyways.  I then had to discuss my dietary issues with her.  I asked about vegetarian meal since that is closest probably can get but will probably discuss with her another time.  She told me they accommodate all dietary needs.

Okay so now I was back to going.

At least now I already know I don’t fit in.  Although honestly as we all know the wealthy and the doctors and lawyers are usually “eccentric” or have aspie traits.  So I may actually fit in better than the prom nightmare.  I have attended other formal events with some of the same people and was fine.  Last year one of my closest friends won an amazing reward and asked me to sit at her table.  That time I didn’t even hesitate or even think through any of my issues.  I just said yes and bought a dress and went and had a pretty good time.  Everyone was nice to me and I didn’t feel out of place at all.  I need to channel that memory and not the nightmare of prom.

Although I do know that this event is more formal but based on the stories the birthday girl was telling from previous years I would have to do a lot to do something wrong.  If anything I may be boring because afraid to say anything.  And that is okay.  I will just go and watch others for a while to survey the land and then try to blend in.  That is how I usually survive such things now.  Back at prom I didn’t know.  I hadn’t learned.  Now I either stay away because I have no desire to go and attempt to blend in or like this event I want to go so I will do it.  That is my choice and I have to think through it for every event or party I attend.  I am choosing to go to this so I plan to fit in and have a good time.  And yes the part of me that keeps saying this is uncomfortable will still say that but I know that is okay now.  The internal screaming of “I don’t belong here” has become more of a whispered “make sure you do the right thing”.  Those things that are intuitive to others are not intuitive to me.  But that is okay I have become better over time.

And the best thing is that my friend that won the amazing award is taking me shopping to help me pick out a gown.  Thank you – it means a lot to me. I’ll try to behave and not be too nervous/weird gown shopping 🙂



  1. Life Skills Teacher says:

    For me the biggest hurdle sensory-wise is the shoes. I ended up barefoot (by accident) in the last formal wedding pictures I was in. Good thing the bride had an open mind….
    I have more dietary issues than anyone I’ve ever met, and I find that if the even is being catered, they can handle me. Just talk to the head caterer. I ask what specifically is on each dish. And I’m always prepare with what I “can” have – plain chicken or beef, no marinade, rice no butter, and steamed veggies – they are usually happy to accommodate. More often than not I get something not only safe and edible but yummy.
    Socially, yeah, I sit there feeling awkward most of the time, but that’s true of all social events, not just the formal events, so it shouldn’t stop you from going to the formal event any more than any others social gathering. 🙂

    • Thank you for the encouragement. That is good idea should send email to the person with my dietary needs. Currently I have dietary needs due to my stupid pancreas not functioning properly but was worried once provide that what if i end up with something I can’t eat because of my other issues. I really hope that turns out okay. I have gotten better over the years to just try something. My husband has really helped with that 🙂
      Oh my I could write a whole blog post about the shoes. They are awful! Would like to wear slippers all day. Some sandals & tennis shoes okay but dress shoes are the worst. I won’t weer heals, I don’t think I could even wear heels for this event. Going to purchase gown today and then will have to deal with the footwear- that whole adventure probably will be another blog post.

  2. I’m not an aspie, though sometimes I wonder. But I do suffer from ADD and Anxiety. I can relate!


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