On the walk home today from the subway I tried to image what you look like. I think you must volley between two forms.
The first is the purple minion from “Despicable Me.” Yes, the one that just makes everything worse by yelling at the top of its lungs no matter the circumstance. Spending a day with you is like spending a day with an uncontrollable fire alarm that blares every time a social situation borders on anything other than ideal. Yes, I hear you! Stop ringing! You’re the anxiety whose vocabulary consists entirely of always and never statements and your favorite phrases include:
I’ve peaked as a writer and will never write anything good again.
I’m always going to feel this frustrated and upset.
I’ll never have it together.
I’ll never find the right person to date.
I’ll always be bad with deadlines.
Going into new situations will always be terrifying.
While you, the purple minion-anxiety, is rash and loud and always on fire, your anxiety alter-ego — personified as a cartoon Dracula — is cunning, quietly waiting around corners, and always knows where my weak spots are.
Dracula-anxiety you’re the type that takes on the role of devil’s advocate. For every new idea I try and propose, you’ve already worked out 11 reasons why it won’t work. You thrive on midnight conversations and digging up long filed away memories just for shits and giggles. Like, “Remember that time you drank one too many beers at a happy hour and told your coworker he had a perfectly symmetrical face? Wasn’t that fun? Lets really think about that as we lay here in the dark.”
Yes Anxiety! I REMEMBER! I WAS THERE!
Together, you two can be a real team — and I don’t mean that as a compliment. You’re real pains in the ass at least once a day.
Last week I wrote in my planner all the things I considered brave that I did that week. Reading back through, I was struck by how little they looked on paper compared to how big they felt in real life.
Brave things Carly did this week
Ask cute coworker to lunch.
Call best friend and talk on the phone for two hours.
Commandeer a desk downstairs at work and hope nobody comes to claim it.
Start planning a fall trip.
Talk candidly with my manager about missing deadlines.
Make plans with a friend I don’t know very well.
Walk into a new restaurant and ask for a table for one.
I know, these things are dinky in the big scheme of things! When I compare them to packing up my life and moving to New York in two weeks I’m often like, wait …. what? Going to a graphic novel bookclub is the thing that’s making you shake in your boots? Really?
But that’s how my brain works and that’s how my anxiety manifests. Instead of trying to shove it into a box under the bed it seems time I learn how to cope with it, starting with the little things first.
So that’s where I am. The majority of the time I can negotiate with this Dracula and calm down the purple minion who is one fire, but somedays they’re just a little more persistent, a little more nasty than normal. On those days, I simply give myself a mental hug and recognize with pride that even though a tiny interaction can give me anxiety, I know I’m going to do it anyway.
Then I go home and make myself some lemon bars.
So Anxiety, whenever you want to breakup just let me know! Until then, could you at least do the dishes?