on the things that scare me

i mean, there are certain things that freak me out because they just spark some cavelady primal rage-fear. snakes? the silverfish that live in the walls and skitter across the living room carpet when my coffee has yet to kick in?

there are so many times during the day when i want, so badly, to just say this and walk away

there are so many times during the day when i want, so badly, to just say this and walk away

but i mean, there are also the Grown-Up Things That I Apparently Have to Deal With. like taxes (sadly, these no longer scare me, just depress me), or student loans (did anyone else break out in a cold sweat?), or creepy guys on the street (legit scary, also, see above GIF, dude).

and then there are the Things That Scare Me But I Do Them Anyway. let’s make a list!

1. running further. i mean. last sunday i ran 6 miles and then basically collapsed for the rest of the day. this week? i’ll run 6.2 on sunday. lawd. it scares me in a good way now. at the start of training, Long Runs scared me because there was just no way that i could ever run 3 miles. or 4. or 5. or 6. and now that i’ve built up the muscles (hellooooo legs) and the endurance and the understanding of pace (sort of), running those longer distances scares me because it’s like, hot damn, look what i can do.

running has made me super vain. this is what i say to myself, every day, in the mirror.

running has made me super vain. this is what i say to myself, every day, in the mirror.

of course, the scary-scary part of running now is two-fold: heat (i hate you) and not throwing up or passing out. so i got a runner id bracelet, and i carry water, and i feel NO SHAME in walking or stopping for a bit or cutting a run short because i want to die more than usual.

2. this is going to sound like a Crazy Person Thing, but i get nervous about exploring DC on my own. mostly it’s some form of deep-rooted What If I Get Lost??, and so i’m completely paranoid that i will go the wrong way on the metro, or get off at the wrong bus stop, or get somewhere super late because i guesstimated my travel time wrong. this week i’ve made strides: i went TWO PLACES on my own and didn’t get lost or eaten by metro rats! YAY ME. and also, perhaps strong evidence that this isn’t a thing that should make me nervous.

3. along those same (ish) lines: i get social anxiety at odd times. i don’t think i’m super introverted, but i think that’s also because i’m only extroverted around my friends, and around strangers, i tend to shut down and mutely nod a lot and get caught up in my own brain (ed. note: i just spent maybe 15 minutes trying to find this EXCELLENT explanation for social anxiety online…there’s a great webcomic that described it JUST SO, and for the life of me, i cannot find it) (AHA! FOUND IT. clicky clicky!) anyhow. sometimes, i get super worried that (a) everyone hates me, (b) i have nothing of value to contribute to a conversation, (c) what i am about to contribute is someone completely off the mark, or (d) all of the above. so it can be scary to get out there – go to parties, get out and see people, and it seems that making myself do just that is part of how i fix it. so the scary thing – the risk of sounding the fool in social situations – is the thing i am trying to get past. it hits me sometimes when it doesn’t need to – an unexpected question from a friend can throw the panic switch from “off” to “full throttle everything is on fire now”, and a wall goes up and i stammer and stare at the ground. or in a bigger social setting with people i don’t know very well – the conversation turns to a topic i’m not familiar with, and that panic switch is back on, telling me that i should probably back away and hide under a table for a bit. the whole time that panic switch is jammed into Crazypants Mode, a little voice in my head is firmly reminding me that i really, truly do not need to be worried – and yet. there we are, feeling supremely out of control. and i think that’s a big part of the Scary Bits – the feeling of being out of control, because i like to feel in control (who doesn’t?), and so part of my growing up, and bettering myself, is learning new mantras to let go a bit, to let myself just be. and this anxiety, it’s not always there. much of the time, i’m good to go. i might be quieter, but that is part of my nature when i’m getting to know a new group of people. it just seems to me that the all-consuming feelings that anxiety brings out in me (and probably in others) make my moments of anxiety seem much, much worse, and much more common. and the fact that i know it’s illogical makes it worse, somehow – i know i shouldn’t feel so worried, but i do, and so i feel guilty (which…what? emotions, you’re weird) for feeling the worry in the first place.

WELL. that went to a navel-gazing place, didn’t it? i’ve had a few conversations of late about what we humans do as we start to grow up (and sometimes realize that being grown-up isn’t all that fabulous, nor does it come with a manual). in the interest of trying to take more positive risks, actually looking at my occasional (though no less miserable than if it were all the time) anxiety is something i need to do much more honestly. i’m doing things that scare me but in good ways – training for a half-marathon, exploring my new city, getting ready to dive into my first year of teaching – and i think a piece of what i do has to be internal. so. that’s this. reminding myself to breathe, that social events are good, that most people probably don’t hate me, that it’s totally okay to not be in control. bit by bit, i think i’m getting to where i want to be.

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