As I sat in the food court of the Sacramento airport yesterday, I watched the people around me eating sandwiches and pizza. They chased their food down with beers and large bottles of water. I eavesdropped on their laughter and conversations about taxis or the Warriors basketball game. And I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into quicksand of self-pity. I envied their ease. I over-analyzed my own inability to enter an airport with the same absent-mindedness as the people around me.
Somewhere along the way, I think around five years ago, my anxiety started following me into airports and airplanes like a creepy stalker trying to tag along on vacation. It’s really lame. Especially because I grew up traveling with my family and have been on countless anxiety-free flights in my past. I know I am capable of flying. I know I have the physiological and psychological ability to be nonchalant and calm. And yet.
This is one of the most frustrating traits of anxiety. The self-awareness. You can be in the middle of an anxiety attack and still have that voice of clarity and reason. You can hear the soft words in the distance, as if you’ve tied two cans to the end of a string and you’re holding each one, straining to understand what is being said. You try your best to listen. You know you’re being irrational. And yet.
This can trigger self-loathing. Because you are aware that you are being unreasonable, because you know that it is just your anxiety, just your body reacting to the situation, just the chemicals in your brain clashing like lightning. . . because of all this you can become angry at yourself.
As I sat in the airport yesterday I reflected back on how much I used to loathe myself in the dating scene. I would observe the people around me in relationships, all seeming to have it figured out, and I’d hate that I would have emotional meltdowns over a single text.
I remember I once was talking to a friend about my perpetual single’ness and she asked if I had friends in my life that I loved and trusted. I said yes, of course. She reminded me that this was important to remember – that I was capable of lasting, true, relationships. She pointed out I already had the skills to love, it would just take me a little longer to apply them to someone of romantic interest.
I think of this when I fly. I have the skills to fly without anxiety, it will just take me some time to get back to that point. I need to use the sharp self-awareness that comes along with anxiety and apply it to remembering my own strengths and abilities. And in the mean time, I need to try my best to not assume everyone around me has their shit figured out just because they are eating pizza and talking about transportation.