Most of the time I act confident, unfazed, as though I know what I’m doing. I’m the type of person willing to make the occasional complaint in shops or restaurants, because I’ve discovered that as long as I do so politely, people respond in kind.
When I was younger and more afraid, it made sense to be anxious about little things, because bigger things made me nervous as well. But now that I’ve grown up and become more confident, the anxiety, the complete fixation, which happens in response to the smallest of stimuli, still remains, regardless of how irrational they are. I’ve become completely paralysed by a fear of wasps which developed slowly over the last decade or so, and then generalised to give me anxiety around almost all insects. I can happily place phone calls most of the time, but get so anxious about ordering food over the phone that I mostly default to ordering online. And whilst I generally enjoy socialising, I occasionally fixate and panic about events which I’m not due to attend for another month or more. In the last case, it’s not so much a fear of failure – more a fear of wasted time and money. Which is, of course, ridiculous. I’ve accepted that some socialising goes wrong, and some results in emotional crashes afterwards (but that’s another story for another time). For some reason, my anxiety, particularly the fixation variety, is triggered by unpredictable things, and does not respond to logic.
I have yet to find a solution. However, I have come to realise that this is fairly normal, if possibly somewhat exaggerated in my case. After all, how many memes are there about lying in bed fixating on past errors, or panicking about having agreed to a social event. All of the uncertainty and unpredictability of this life has the potential to be exciting, but frequently ends up eliciting terror instead.
But I suppose, though I’ve not yet established how to not be anxious, it is somewhat comforting to think that I am not alone. Perhaps that’s why my generation and the next have spawned so many memes about it; perhaps it is our way of reaching out, expressing ourselves to the void of the internet, and hoping for a response, from anyone, just to remind us that despite how it feels, we are not alone.
And sometimes, that is all we can do.