Anxiety is using self-checkout instead of a traditional checkout line featuring a human cashier…
because there is a myriad of unforeseen disasters that can occur during one short instance of standard human interaction. One, you could drop your change. All over the floor. In a brilliant display of interpretive change dance. Or the cashier might (likely will) ask you how your day is going. Do you answer honestly? Do you deliver the standard, “Fine, how about yours?” and consider the disingenuous nature of your current reality? Which is worse, really? There’s always the possibility that a hippo chooses that moment to invade your local grocer. Happens to choose that particular checkout line to destroy in the midst of satisfying his hungry, hungry hippo needs. Or even worse—what if while you’re there, you say something dumb?
Anxiety is getting all the way to the door at the event—then leaving…
because there is a myriad of unforeseen disasters that can occur during one short social event, no matter how much you’ve rehearsed the evening in your head. One, you could go in and stand alone, awkwardly, a wallflower, for most of the night. Or someone might talk to you—that would be the real tragedy. That person might (likely will) ask what you do for a living, or, what brought you out for the evening. Do you call yourself a writer, or stick with your 9-5 title? Does typing ravenously on a Mac for 7 hours before going out into the world to make an actual living qualify you to answer “Writer” at said social outing, or do you have to have something actually published to use that response and if that’s the case, does “actually published” include the short haiku you wrote for the back of your church’s Sunday service program (when you were 8)? Do you answer honestly, or honestly? Which is worse, really? There’s always the possibility that in that exact moment when you take the plunge and walk into said social event, it is in that moment that your blue jeans will spontaneously combust, diverting all attention to you and the copious flames that have just become your fashion statement for the evening. Or even worse—what if you don’t go in at all and you sit up all night regretting it?
Anxiety is deleting the text message before you send it…
because there is a myriad of unforeseen disasters that can occur after the sending of one seemingly simple text message (if you send it to another human, anyway; if you send it to a small animal in the Amazon rainforest, you’re probably safe). One, the person could never respond. Or there could be a typo, and let’s face it, typos are the worst because suddenly instead of asking something innocent like, “What’s news?” you realize you’ve said “Let’s snooze,” and what person on the face of the planet is going to believe “What’s news” autocorrected to “Let’s snooze,” so they will assume it was the world’s worst attempt at a pickup line and you will never, ever, ever, ever be able to look them in the eye in real life again. Unless you use the standard “Wrong text feed, oops,” but then you once again have to consider the disingenuous nature of your current reality. Are you honest? Which is worse, really? Or there is always the possibility that in that exact moment they open your text message their dog, Count Dog-ula, prances back in from his appointment at the groomer’s wearing the most horrendous half-priced haircut Holly’s Dog-Hair Do’s has ever delivered and so they permanently associate your existence with bad doggie do’s, destroying whatever hint of a solid relationship you may have had (or were going to have in the future) with them. Or even worse—you send it, they respond, and you have to carry on an actual conversation.
If this is the part where you think I am going to deliver the cure to anxiety, I’m sorry I’ve misled you somehow. I thought something about the very nature of my writing would hint at the fact that I probably don’t have many answers. So, I can’t tell you the answer…or if there even is an answer that is right for you.
What I can tell you is that I get it. I totally get it. Anxiety sucks. Anxiety has the tendency to rob us of potentially rewarding moments in our lives. When we do muddle through, we sometimes wonder why we bothered—but hey! We did it. I think that counts for something…a whole lot of somethings. Or sometimes, it’s awesome. We muddle through, it’s awesome, and we feel on top of the world. But that doesn’t always guarantee next time. I. Totally. Get. It.
The best I can say is this: I try to imagine that there must be something for me to get out of the situation if I can push through my anxiety and face it. Maybe the hippo is wearing a boss pair of throwback flare jeans, which (once he is done destroying the checkout), he can tell you where to find for half-price? And maybe those are the same flare jeans that burst into flames when you do make it into the event, sure, but on the plus side—maybe when you run from the event fully aflame, you run into that person you wanted to text and you don’t even have to worry about telling them “Let’s snooze” because you just have a one-on-one conversation instead. Which is scary. But maybe it goes well.
Or maybe you don’t push through the anxiety. Maybe you don’t face it. But you love yourself anyway. Because whether we all want to admit it, we all suffer from anxieties…some of us more so than others.
But if you’re one of those types riddled with the strangest and most imagination-inspiring forms of anxiety, like me, just know I do totally get it. And you’re still cool. And I love you. And your hippo-friends. And your rockin’ flare jeans. And your smile when you’re talking to people that make you happy.