Lately my anxieties have prevented me from living the life I want to live.
It took a lot of self-analyzing and begrudged admittance to say this out loud. I have my theories as to why my anxieties have become as bloated as a Pufferfish in the BP oil spill, but I haven’t yet discovered the answer. One step at a time.
This realization/admittance came after I found myself having an exaggerated and unnecessarily negative reaction to minor obstacles affecting my getting to Portugal to see Geoff (he is currently teaching there for three months).
In other words, I went ape shit girl drama cray-cray: crying, throwing garbage cans, drinking Malibu Rum on the couch and taking 3 hour naps to prevent myself from yelling at people on the sidewalk.
You see, sinking ship American Airlines will not release a voucher to us that would help pay for my plane ticket. This has caused me to scramble to find the resources to get to Europe. A few options have become available (another smaller voucher courtesy of Geoff’s Dad and miles courtesy of my friend Ryan), but both have stipulations that are making the booking challenging. Though monetary concerns when traveling is a legitimate stress, this obstacle has caused me to wave the white flag all too easily. Most people are telling me, “It’s Europe! You must go! When will you be able to do this again?“. Like most twenty-somethings I should do everything in my might to get to Europe even with little in my pocket, right?
I don’t have that feeling though.
I essentially want to take off my pants and flash my ass to Europe. “F YOU, EUROPE!”, I would paint in bold colors across my Wonder Bread skin.
Going or not going to Europe, an insignificant problem to be had compared to the greater issues many have. This I’m aware of. However, as I discovered, there is a more deeply-rooted issue as to why I don’t want to go to Europe. This is the part that is hard for me to admit to myself: my negative emotional reaction to planning this trip has only a little do with finances and everything to do with my fear of flying across the Atlantic. This is compounded by my absolute frustration and disgust with myself for having such an illogical fear.
I’ve also realized that over the past year, I’ve been terrified of many uncontrollable factors in my life. 2011 and 2012 have been dotted with mini-panic attacks that someone is going to break into my house.
Many years ago all of these would be non-issues for me.
Many years ago, I took risks.
I guess I still do, as my childhood friend, Dan, reminded me yesterday.
I went the freelance route less than a year ago, but that is different. It’s a risk that can’t potentially cause me to fall from the sky and disintegrate into a million pieces once I hit the ground.
Dan has always been wise beyond his years. He’s 29, but he speaks with the assurance of someone twice his age. He has a beautiful wife and two year-old daughter, he manages a winery in Upstate NY, he recently bought a 100 year-old home, he gardens, he raises chickens and sees his parents and siblings on a regular basis. He essentially lives the picture perfect life. Though he and I are at different points in our lives, when the day comes that I do want a family and home, I hope I can be as well-balanced as he is. He is my role model for what a good friend, dad, husband, son and human being should be (p.s. I love you Dan, thanks for always being there for me).
Dan is also a person of faith. I’m sure this has been a big factor in the decision-making and assurance he’s had in his life. When telling him about my fears, he so matter-of-factly told me, “You have no control over it. Period. Life is about taking risks, otherwise you are not living your life. If the plane crashes, the plane crashes.”
I’m not a person of faith, or rather, I’m a person taking the very first step of my journey to finding any sort of faith, so this way of thinking is foreign to me. I come from a lineage of Jews who worry about everything. I feel like the childhood version of Alvy Singer most times. What’s the point of doing homework when the world is expanding and one day will break apart into a million pieces?
I don’t have the comfort in knowing that if I die or a loved one dies, everything will be ok, that there is a place for us to go.
I’m 28 and I’m discovering my and my loved ones’ mortality. It is making me paralyzed.
That is my theory of the Pufferfish.
All this just makes you normal. Seriously. Everyone dies, nobody has a clue what comes after. Go to Europe.
I don’t want to die young though!
Then stay at home curled up in the fetal position. Or Europe. Tough call, I know…
Pull up your big-girl panties and make this happen. I don’t think age has dick to do w/any of it. I say, that lots of other things will come up in life and this will get pushed back and further back.
Maybe spend a little of that freelance dough talking to someone professionally about it, get some fucking xanax from your doctor, and get on that flight to see your No-longer-Beardo BF. Bet he misses you.
Get on the plane, Lauren.
I have a nasty fear of flying, to the point of a few minor panic attacks, but I always think of the end point: Prague, Rome, Madrid, Bangkok, Istanbul and all of the other places that helped shape my view of the world.
I love being in awe of people and places. Travel is my drug of choice and always worth the shitty flights. And if I die on a plane, I will die doing something I loved.
As with all things that are truly important in your life, you’ll find a way to make it work. Or it’s not truly important.
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin
Thanks, Smedette. Perfect advice. I will keep thinking this throughout the day while I make my decision.
I often think of the words of the great philosopher, Kenny Rogers. “You gotta know when hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” I won’t go into details, but I seriously may be dead if those words didn’t hit me at the right time.
When I do a little risk assessment, I think about the best case scenario, worst case scenario… and middle case scenario. Things are rarely as good as you hope or bad as you think.
If I were a logical person, I would know that the realities of my fears are not as bad as I think.
I went to Portugal this time last year and was pretty scared about the flight. Sleeping pills help. I took 2 before I got on the plane and was out the entire time.
You should really get on that plane. It will be great.
Barbara, that sounds perfect! That is my hope if I go- to be out the entire trip! What did you take?
Just over the counter Unisom.
If you have no ties, you should try to go, otherwise, if the chance never comes again you will regret it.
I don’t want to live a life of regrets!!!
Mortality is terrifying. It’s only recently come to my attention that, um, people around me will die. Scary as hell.
In a non-related story, I have a dear friend who is terrified of flying and now routinely makes cross continental trips. I’ve emailed her and will let you know what she takes to curb the apprehension.
Oh, cool! Thanks, Kelly! Yeah, I would love to know her secret!
Do it! Because you can. Fear is good when it protects us but when it prevents us from living it has to be overcome.
I read a great analogy on fear in a memoir by Mary Karr. Her son is being chased home by bullies from school. So she says one day, “why don’t you stop running. Turn around and fight them.” Her son says, “but they’ll kick my ass.” She says, “so they do, and it hurts. But then they leave you alone. Fighting hurts once. Running hurts every day.”
I have a crippling fear of public speaking. I was personally asked to submit an essay to this Listen to you Mother show of public readings on Motherhood, and I declined due to my fear. Watching the show the other day really hurt. I should have been up there.
Get on the plane woman!
You are absolutely not allowed to die before me!!!!!
Also, you are one of the bravest people I know!
[…] for this week’s jaunt to El Salvador is hard for me to do. Our friend over at the great blog Hipstercrite got me thinking last night about dealing with fear of the unknown, and any associated paranoia that […]
Take half of a Xanax and see if it takes the edge off, if not take the other half. Docs will usually prescribed a few for these type of things.
Fear can be debilitating. One day you’ll wake up in your thirties and realize you have to make up for lost time due to fear. You’ve told yourself to be afraid now it’s time to change your story. One of courage and bravery.
FEAR is the dirrtiest 4 letter word I know. Now I do not fear death; faith tells me that after I die, there will be a bigger and greater adventure that I can’t even imagine. I enjoy the not knowing. But everyday fears (planes, hobos, robbers, spiders, etc) those are not to be discounted. Just because it’s irrational doesn’t make it less scary. Be gentle with yourself and keep taking one step at a time. You’ll get there 🙂
oh and I love you.
[…] was reading my friend Lauren’s post today on Hipstercrite, and was moved by her very distinct fear: Her fear of cross-continental flying. And while I […]
I saw this post via Tolly’s site.
So glad that you posted it. I have an insane fear of flying myself. I can handle Austin to Dallas, but I leave for LA on Saturday AM and I’m already thinking of excuses to keep me here — LA, where I can see my friends / family / shop / enjoy the beach / veg in a fancy hotel and be pampered. I just refilled by Xanny (xanax) this morning. It helps. Take it.
I missed out on living in Spain for a semester & a trip to Jamaica.
It’s ok to be fearful, as many have told me, but having faith that we’ll all be alright is the best approach to life.
HAVE FUN AND GO!