Popcorn, Panic, and Peace

I’m a socially anxious introvert, while not my identity in and of itself, that is part of who I am. Not only a I drained by social interactions, but social interactions also almost paralyze me with anxiety sometimes. I’m also someone who feels incredibly anxious if I perceive something may be unsafe or uncomfortable. In my head, I usually know most of these anxious moments are overly dramatic and that I need to calm down and just do the thing. Sometimes, I just can’t. Sometimes no matter how illogical I know I’m being, I find myself locked up in fear unable to do anything until something changes. Most people seem to be annoyed by this. Most people react with short replies and irritable answers. Then, there are people who get it and if they don’t get it, they at least realize I can’t seem to help it, so they help me. They’re patient with me. They encourage me. Sometimes they do the thing so I don’t have to.

I’ve been planning to write this post for quite a while now because about six months ago, I walked around Boerne with two of my favorite people and had a moment like this. It was absolutely ridiculous. We were in a popcorn or treat store and I was looking at all the popcorn flavors. Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and I adore green apple flavoring. They happened to have a green apple flavored popcorn. I was both disgusted and intrigued. Could green apple popcorn be good? I wanted to know how much it cost, but felt paralyzed by the thought of asking, so I asked my friend to ask for me. She laughed a little and graciously asked for me. The popcorn was more expensive than I would have liked for something I just wanted to try, so I was bummed. Then, my other friend noticed a tray of little cups of popcorn and took it upon herself to ask if they were samples. She didn’t even ask for herself. She asked for me before I could even think about it. When the cashier said they were samples, my friend gestured for me to take one so I did. (And, FYI, I personally thought the green apple popcorn was amazing! Haha. Still didn’t buy it because I didn’t have extra money to spend, but it was really yummy! Ooh! Maybe I’ll go buy some soon! Now, I really want some! 🙈)

I don’t only have social anxiety. As I said, I also have safety anxiety. If something doesn’t feel safe, even if it logically is, I start to panic. Last Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, I busted a window in the bus I was driving because I turned too closely to a tree branch. Our mechanics fixed it very quickly, so I was able to drive it again that afternoon. Before I went out to drive it, I worried about the broken shards of glass that fell into the floor. Our head mechanic, Jason, personally went out to inspect the bus for me. He didn’t have to. I could have and would have done it, but he’s gotten to know me well enough that he knows I’ve got a bit of an anxiety problem. Instead of sighing or saying something along the lines of, “calm down,” he personally helped me know I was safe. And that’s not the only time he or the rest of the mechanics have gone out of their well to assure me I was safe and secure and ready to go. They, especially Jason, regularly go the extra mile to help me and I know it’s because they know I feel better with their expert opinion versus my own.

The reason this is important to me is because some of the other people I work with, especially two of my managers, seem to act like my questions and concerns are a problem. Sure, maybe they are. Maybe my worries are ridiculous sometimes. Actually, there’s no maybe, sometimes my anxiety is ridiculous. Like I said though, I can’t seem to always control it. Sometimes I have to be shown that my worry is silly and not just told. More importantly, I need to know I’m not seen as foolish for my worries. In fact, that’s the best way for me to quickly overcome the anxiety and face it less often. All I need a lot of the time is to know or at least feel like my worries are understood.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give advice to anyone reading this who has anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. In 2019, I’ve been learning countless ways to handle my anxiety. One way is to accept it. If I accept my anxiety, then it becomes less of a problem and more of a question. If it’s a question, then there’s an answer to find and I can find that answer. If others accept my anxiety, then they can help me either my doing something or by showing me that I’m not alone. Even if they don’t understand, then at least they sympathize. They acknowledge that I’m not intentionally being difficult. And when I know that, my anxiety feels easier to overcome. I think thats probably true for others too. When they accept their mental blocks and when their people accept their mental blocks, then those blocks become easier to move. And then there is peace on earth or at least in our own little worlds.

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