I don’t have anxiety. Not in the diagnosed sense, and not warranting any kind of medication to alleviate. What I do have are moments of anxiety, which I think everyone has. Having anxious feelings is surely part of the emotional spectrum that comes with just being human, right? Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and how those little moments of anxiety affect the decisions I make. Or don’t make, such as it is.
If someone were to give it a name, at a stretch it could be said that I have a mild social anxiety. Being in unfamiliar situations makes me uncomfortable, and I’m rarely content around other people, particularly those that I don’t know. Large crowds – and small ones – have a tendency to make me nervous, and I am much happier just hanging out with a small handful of people that I know, and have spent time with before.
I was thinking about my holiday. Except for the two nights I hung out with my friends that live in Tassie, I spent my nights in the motel room, watching The Knick, or writing, or sewing. And that in itself isn’t a bad thing. But all I ate for dinner in the motel during that week, was crackers and dip. I know, I am a poor excuse for an adult. The thing was, the microwave in the room nearly exploded the first night I was there, so I couldn’t heat anything. And in my defence, I really did try to get proper food for dinner. But every time, I was thwarted by crowds.
I made trips in to the city centre for food four times. Four times I looked up places to eat, or got a recommendation. And four times, I went in my car and navigated my way there. And four times, I couldn’t face the front door without unease. The fish and chip place on the wharf was so packed with people that I got in my car and turned right around as soon as I found a parking space. Similar situation with the pizza place I tried the second night. And the supposedly excellent Italian restaurant that offered takeaway was closed when I went to check. It was only on my last night in Hobart that I actually succeeded. I put aside my nerves, walked right into the pizza place I had tried earlier in the week and made an order. And I ended up back in the motel room with one of the nicest (if priciest) pizzas I have ever eaten.
I do a similar thing when I eat at restaurants that I’ve never been to before, with an unfamiliar menu. For example, whenever I have Asian food with friends, I tell them to order me something because I have a terrible fear of pronouncing something wrong and making a dick of myself. It’s only when I become familiar with a place that I start to order things for myself. I’m not a big fan of ordering drinks at a bar, and I’m the absolute worst when it comes to making decisions when I’m around other people. And off the food topic, there have been many times when I have wanted to check something out, or do an activity, and have ended up leaving it because I can’t face up to doing something unknown on my own.
I feel like I am probably missing out on a lot of cool things, simply because I get myself too worked up into a state of nerves at the prospect of potentially making a fool of myself. And the thing is, that’s all entirely in my own head. That fear of being judged for doing or saying something wrong is completely unfounded, and I am aware of that. Most people aren’t even paying me any attention, much less watching to see if I make a mistake. But I can’t seem to get past that momentary anxiety in the moment. I need to take a leaf out of my best friend’s book. He is going on a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in May, and we are discussing his trip via text as I write. It’s going to be a total culture shock, and he has already planned all the awesome things he is going to do. It is going to be a completely new experience for him, and instead of standing on the precipice of mild discomfort at the thought of all that different, he is going to throw himself wholeheartedly into it. And rightly so!
Don’t get me wrong, I love new things. I love trying different food, and exploring different places, and finding out what different things result in the best orgasm. I do a lot of day trips on my own when I get the time, and indeed my trip to Tasmania was a solitary one. But I think I allow my small anxieties to get in the way of having really fulfilling experiences. And I would like to change that. When he first mentioned he had booked his trip, my friend asked if I would go to Vietnam (at some point, not to join him on his trip) and I said, honestly, that I would. Because as I said, I love having new and different and exciting experiences. But I think, despite being a pretty solitary person in general, that overseas travel is something I would like to do – at least at first – with someone else. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that a life lived in fear is not really a life fully lived. After all, how can one really enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer, if one is too busy being nervous about the unfamiliar?
I’m not big on personality overhauls, mostly because I think it’s impossible to change who you are. But there’s nothing wrong or impossible about changing smaller aspects of your personality. So I’m setting a goal for myself. My trip to Tasmania was the start, but I want to do things, without my moments of anxiety stopping me. I am going to try and do things outside of my comfort zone; really put myself out there, and throw myself into life’s experiences. My best friend has inspired me, so I’m gonna make him proud. You watch, I’ll be a thrill seeker in no time!