I’ve written a few times on Hipstercrite about how going freelance has improved my career confidence and has been mentally rewarding.
I’ve jokingly talked about how going freelance has made it difficult for me to remember to change my underwear or socialize with humans and not feral cats.
What I haven’t mentioned is that going freelance has amplified my anxieties and worries and at some point I’m concerned I will become agoraphobic.
This all sounds like wonderfully neurotic writer behavior but it is neither fun or helpful. It takes a lot for me to leave the house to socialize and when I do, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to pay attention or engage in conversation. I’ve mentioned this before, so I will not rehash too much. This behavior, which began before I went the freelance route and had decided to take my writing more seriously, has caused me friendships. When I started to stay home at the attempt of being more productive, it angered a few friends. One in particular told me that I was being selfish. I explained to her that I didn’t care about her any less and that she should please give me some time while I work through this period of creative self-discovery. This friend, who is in her early 30’s, did not believe me and promptly deleted me as her Facebook friend. Though other friends who are more mature than this did not react in such a manner, it’s fair to say that not seeing them for months at a time has certainly put a strain on our friendships. Friends rarely ask me to go to a show or a party because they know I won’t go. The only energy I have these days is for small gatherings with close friends where we play Settlers of Catan or Rock Band.
When I think about how sad it is that I’m not the social butterfly many of my peers are in Austin, I do not regret having buckled down on my work for it has paid off and I figure that enjoying small gatherings over loud bars, parties or shows is more of a sign of my age. This doesn’t prevent me from thinking that if one day I write a book or movie that becomes successful it will have come at the cost of friendships and no one other than family members will show up at my funeral.
Becoming a social idiot has concerned me, but the enhanced behavioral quirk that I’m most concerned about these days is my worrisome nature. Whether I’d like to stop worrying or not, I’m a full-blooded Jew and my kind are very good at developing diarrhea in the middle of the night while worrying about things like 2 inches of snowfall in the forecast or day trips to Philadelphia. This comes from a long lineage that each generation tries with all their might to break. My grandmother has reached an age where she does not recognize that her anxiety-riddled behavior filled with sleepless nights and bubbling anger is anything other than normal, but both my mother and I have tried to fight it within ourselves. I give my mother credit for she finally realized in her 50’s that dwelling on even the slightest negative possibility is not good for your mental or physical health. Regardless of how hard we’ve both tried to minimize this neurosis, it is still in our blood and we both find it creeping up at different times for different reasons.
Since I’ve gone freelance, I mostly work from home which means I have a lot of solitary time to dwell on my life and begin worrying about things that when I verbalize later to friends or my boyfriend, I realize sound ridiculous upon leaving my lips.
Lately I have plenty of time to sit and read the gritty details of plane crashes thus causing me to take shots of whiskey before boarding a plane and having the look of utter terror while taking off and landing that make other passengers extraordinarily uncomfortable. And even though a nice gal told me yesterday that more people are killed by donkeys than plane crashes every year, it still does not stop me from assuming I will have the same fate as everyone on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.
Last year I developed a concern that every night someone was trying to break into the house. Just as I was getting over that fear, a peer was murdered in her home nearby with subsequent break-ins into young women’s houses. The police have no leads whatsoever. In addition, the other night we caught a man canvasing our house to break-in. When I used to feel that Austin is a safe town- and statistically it still is- I’ve begun to believe when out in public, every person has the potential of doing bad.
I worry about offending people through my writing. I worry that I have a blood clot in my neck and I will be one of the young women you read about on CNN reports that have strokes at young ages. I worry about my parents’ health. I worry about my boyfriend wanting to move to space.
I find myself, much like my grandmother, with a lot of solitary time at home having nothing better to do than worry. Even when my own life concerns are minimal, I begin taking on the bigger picture of what the futures holds for the world. Will we run out of water? Will the super volcanoes erupt? Will we all want to move to space?
Do I worry- SEE!- that in the long run going freelance and following my goals has been counter-productive for me? Do I fear that I need more work structure in my life to prevent myself from spiralling into an abyss of constant concern? Maybe. But, this is the route I wanted to go and I better fucking learn to deal with it.
Nope. You are not alone. I am such a worry-wort. It’s bad. I think I got it from my grandmother. I had anxiety at 4.
At 4?! Is your family Jewish too?
I am in the Exact same boat as you are. My grandmother, my mother and I are all anxious people; having our bouts of anxiety attacks for different reasons and diferent times. I almost begin to feel anxious as I write this, for fear that talking about anxiety will make me anxious. I too worry about things that are well out of my control: such as zombie apocalypse or massive natural disasters-I know so silly. The very fact is that, and I’m sure you can attest to this, we just cannot help but worry about things at certain times. I also experience distance with friends, I stayed home to attend community college while everyone else went off to four-year schools. I sometimes feel left behind, although I am doing well in school and work. Socially, I am beginning to feel deprived. Hopefully things will begin top get better, and as for the anxiety- I try to have a care-free attitude. Best Wishes!
I have the same issue. However, I think there might be an upside: you think of a problem from almost every angle and sometimes you solve it more effectively. Oh, and I also do drugs and that helps.
Hahaha. I guess that is an upside. Unless you think things into non-existence.
Aww honey, I feel for you. While I am not a terrible worrier, two of my dearest friends struggle with anxiety and it makes my heart hurt for them. First and foremost, take care of yourself. If you are not in a place where you want to be out a lot, then don’t do it. And most importantly don’t let anyone tell you that caring for yourself is wrong or bad or selfish. Whoever that friend was obviously wasn’t a very good friend.
Thanks, Cathy. I could be a better friend, but I know when I’m in that sort of place where I want to hide out at home vs. going out. I wish I was more sociable though lately though!
Many of history’s greatest thinkers, artists, inventors, etc. were neurotic, self-doubting, and/or just plain psychotic. So your issues with worry and anxiety put you in pretty good company. Like Tesla-Mozart-Jobs-type company. So don’t worry ’bout it!
I was waiting for someone to say that. 😉
I completely relate to everything in this post and have been feeling so anti-social in the past few months. When I go out to big social gatherings I feel like a deer in the headlights and then I worry that people just think I’m stupid. And I come from a long line of worriers.
Yep. I have that happen more frequently too. Or I find myself acting like I don’t see a person I recognize b/c I don’t have the mental capacity to talk to them right now. I hate it. I hate when other people do that to me too.
Trust me. It’s not just you.
I have become increasingly more anti-social as I get older – due more to my increasing social anxieties, so I can relate. However, I don’t think I worry enough. I am proud of myself for at least remembering to make sure the door is locked before I go to bed. ( I cannot count the times I have left it unlocked)Life is all about balance – you just need to find your balance. At least you are aware and concerned and attempting to find a solution – it’s a good beginning.
Jennifer, you’re right. It is about balance. Balance is something I’ve tried to strive to but I never know if I’m achieving it or not. I’m getting better about shutting my computer down and phone off at the end of the day, but I think working from home has already done its damage in regards to socializing.
I’m exactly the same. I developed the same break in fear when I was living alone; which made it impossible to sleep on some nights. Being alone, however, is good for my writing and productivity. I need days alone after being social to feel energised again.
Rachel, I wish being scared shitless helped me be productive. I usually just sit there wasting time worrying.
The worst thing about worrying is how it can eventually make you LESS cautious. This happens to me, and I think it eventually happens to everyone… you start worrying so much that you get to a point where you just say “I’m done with this worrying, fuck it!” …and then you drive 30 mph over the speed limit or walk home through the creepy part of town. I guess I’ve been worrying just a moderate amount recently, and I tell myself that I’m doing myself a favor.
Like Walter White!
i’m with ya. especially about someone breaking into my home while I’m sleeping. the other night i woke up at a funny angle and a car happened to be turning the corner at the time i looked up at the closet and i would have SWORE there was someone in the closet with their cell phone looking at me (headlights, hello stupid!)… we can only do something about what we can do something about. realize it does us no good to worry about the things we can’t do anything about. it helps.
I give my Grandma that same advice. What does worrying do to help? Absolutely nothing. Yet I often find myself doing it. :/
i run most days to try to clear the worries out of my head. its pretty helpful i find. kind of. I don’t know maybe yoga is the key.
i think its important to try to minimize that kind of thinking though. i notice that my brain and nervous system are increasingly fragile and decreasingly resilient as i grow old. and i feel like eventually too many bad thoughts will start to cause irreversible damage to them – to the point of impairing my ability to process information and my surroundings with a curious, open and creative mind and body. i don’t want that to be what defines my getting old. i would like to become wiser and lovelier with age but i think that too much anxiety will only dull me down over time
me too. I hate flying and sometimes feel like I could freak out on planes. Then I realized it was the feeling of not being in control that really freaked me out. I had to “let go” to calm down but so far its only worked for when I fly.
Wow! This is exactly what I needed to read. I can use all the reminders I can get about how important it is to take one day at a time——-and not try to live distracted by what “might’ happen in the future. I also heard a show that offered another list from different perspective. It was a radio show called “How to win the War against Worry.” Here’s a link to it:
This one gives 4 more strategies to use to overcome worry. I’ve used some of them to stop anxiety from taking hold and becoming a vicious cycle of worry. Good, practical advice given there too.