Summer brings sunshine, pool days, lazy mornings…and anxiety. I am grateful to have the downtime after a busy school year, but free time often triggers anxiety for me. I am the type of person who thrives with structure and routine. It is sometimes hard to pinpoint what exactly is making me anxious and why it gets worse at times. Traveling causes the most anxiety for me and there are ample opportunities to go places over the summer. Most of my family was off for the month of July, too, and so I was invited to participate in many activities. I always feel the desire to go, but sometimes the anxiety is preventative. I try not to let it “win”, but sometimes it does and it can put a damper on the summer and how I feel about myself.
This week, my family had plans to attend a festival about an hour away. I decided not to go, but second guessed myself the whole time. I wanted to go, but was uncomfortable about the drive and how I would feel. About an hour after they left, I decided to go…to not let anxiety prevent me from living my life. I bought a ticket, got dressed and jumped in my car before I could change my mind. To be honest, I think I knew I might do this because driving myself places is one of the ways I can push myself- I do better on my own, when I am in complete control. I decided not to tell my family I was coming, rather surprise them (I knew this would make my mom so happy because she has been worried about me). I got on the highway and when I was about 20 minutes into the hour long drive, it began to torrentially rain and thunderstorm. The venue I was going to was outdoors and so I was uncertain what to do. I didn’t want to “give up” and go home, but I didn’t want to push myself to make the drive and then have to turn around and go home anyway.
After some hesitation, I decided to go home. I was just too uncomfortable driving in bad weather when my anxiety was already bad. The whole way back home, I beat myself up…I should have continued driving, I should have tried harder, I should have waited for the storm to pass. When I pulled back in my driveway, I cried. I felt like a failure.
It took some tears and some phone calls with friends and some time to reflect, but I was able to shift the experience in my mind and focus more on the attempt than the outcome. I did not make it to the festival, but I genuinely tried to go. And during the drive, I really felt okay and not terribly anxious. Back at home, I was disappointed, but I knew I should also be proud of myself for trying. I can’t really say that I would put this experience in the “win” column, but I know that it was better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.