That Time I Kicked my Anxiety’s Ass

“You’re going all by yourself?”

It was the second time my mother had asked the question in less than 5 minutes. I had just nonchalantly told her I was about to drive an hour to Detroit at 1 o’clock in the afternoon on Memorial Day alone.

The nonchalance was a lie, of course. I never go anywhere by myself. I hate driving alone to places I’ve never been before, and I hate being places I’ve never been before even more. I’m not sure when that happened, exactly. I was not always like that. I used to be fearless. Sometimes I still am- I hopped on a plane to Turkey for a 4 week study abroad trip with people I barely knew on nothing but pure determination to go somewhere. I also almost cried before  I boarded the plane from New York to Istanbul, but still. On most days, though, I don’t even like walking into a new restaurant first.

On Monday my friend Tim invited Joe and I to his house for some day drinking by the pool for Memorial Day. I was excited to get out of the house and I hadn’t seen Tim in a few weeks, so I called Joe as soon as the text came through.

But Joe couldn’t go. His parents are having a yard sale this weekend and he had already promised to help them get ready.

And for a split second my brain instinctively got disappointed, because like I said, I never go anywhere by myself. So, the voice in my head sighed, I guess I can’t go.

I thought about that for a moment. Then I thought to myself, fuck that.

“I think I’ll probably go anyway,” I heard myself saying into the phone.

“Good! You should. Have fun!”

So I did. I climbed in my car, set the GPS on my phone, and hopped on I-69 East. Traffic was surprisingly (mercifully) non-existent considering it was Memorial Day. I must have said that outloud at some point, because the universe heard me and after I got off the express way I got stuck behind 2 motorcycles, who I ended up following for miles through every nearly hicktown between Imlay City and Shelby Township. That was a treat. And then as I come up to the main road in Shelby Township the Google Maps woman says

“At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit.”

Which I proceeded not to do. I panicked, forgot what she said, and got off at the first exit and then did a Michigan left because fuck traffic circles, okay? And at this point the universe is laughing at me, because as soon as I exit that traffic circle (going in the correct direction this time) Google Maps lady pipes up again:

“At the traffic circle take the first exit.”

You have got to be kidding me.

“You better be really nice to me today, because I had to go through not 1, but 2 roundabouts to get to your house just now.” This is the first thing I said to Tim as he walked up the driveway to assure me I was at the right house.

We spent the whole day drinking vodka ice raspberry and Pinot Grigio, and failing miserably to keep a bloody beachball in the air because my short little legs kept misplacing the floor of the pool.  After everyone else had left we went upstairs and I kicked his ass at Smash WiiU (I’m lying to you. I won exactly once. Splatoon is really where my talents lie.) And then I drove myself home…after having left at exactly the right time to get home just as it got dark. Because baby steps.

It might sound like nothing. It might even sound kind of silly. But I was absurdly proud of myself when I got home that night. I used to be fearless. And this week I took a tiny step towards rediscovering that part of me.

I’ve missed her.

overcoming anxiety and being fearless