I once canceled a trip to a friend’s wedding because of my anxiety.
I still think about this even though it was so many years ago. Too much, probably. I wonder why I allowed my anxiety to win. But then I remind myself that when you have anxiety sometimes anxiety just wins. Full stop. And the truth is, that’s okay. Because I’ll never stop trying. (And I won’t beat myself up) It wasn’t the first time I couldn’t do something and it surely wasn’t the last.
This past week, as many of you know from my blue and white speckled instagram feed, I went to London and Santorini. I traveled through many airports, took a total of six flights — the shortest was an hour, the longest almost eight hours. There was a flight we almost didn’t make because the airport in Santorini was a total gong show. I was off of a normal schedule, some days I didn’t even know that day it was. Also let’s not even discuss that kind of bathrooms I had to visit — and some I had to even pay for. I don’t speak Greek, and with a life-threatening nut allergy this could have proven to be a total disaster. I did spontaneous not-like-me things, like book last-minute tickets to a play in London (In The Heights — highly recommend!), I sat on cave ledge to have my photo taken. I walked the 528 steps to the top of the dome to see the view of London. I walked the almost 300 steps to see the fishing town of Ammoudi. I took the subway in London. I stood in a very crowded crowd to try to catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
There was plenty of room for anxiety to wrap itself around me like a blanket and pull tightly.
And here’s the thing. I had exactly no anxiety.
Not even as I was putting my bags through the scanners for the millionth time at the millionth airport. And not even when the screen on the back of the seat in front of me wasn’t working and I was offered a voucher instead of 8-hours of London-to-Toronto entertainment.
I’m learning. I’m learning to step lightly out of that comfort zone, and not punish myself if I can’t. I didn’t go on any boats, even though I so desperately wanted to spend the day on Mykonos and it was just a short boat trip away from Santorini. I didn’t just try the fish and chips in London because it’s London and you just have to.
I’m learning how to be anxious AND a traveler. I’m learning that it is possible to be both.
To those of you who can just hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, I suppose this’ll be hard for you to comprehend, how it is that I can feel anything but happy! every minute of a dream trip. But to those of you who suffer from anxiety, or to those of you living with someone who suffers from anxiety, you know that the moments that we can free ourselves from that strong and crippling force of the anxiety beast are truly the most amazing moments.
The moments I feel the most alive.