The Anxiety of it All
People deal with different levels of anxiety throughout their lives. I know that my own anxiety has fluctuated and surfaced in many different situations throughout the past few years. When I first moved to Montreal, I had never experienced it to such a high degree. I walked up the hill to my building before class in the first week for a presentation. I remember feeling a tightening of my throat and an almost inability to breathe. I called my friend in tears steps before the building not knowing where to turn or what to do.
That feeling stuck with me for months after. I would be out for dinner with a friend and walking home, with no pressing stress or things on my mind, yet I would feel this debilitating anxiety that would leave me so uncomfortable I would want to go home. I'm not exactly sure of the moment it started to fade, but I remember that throughout that time, instead of avoiding those situations, I would find ways of dealing with them. For me, as weird as it sounds, was water and mints. As long as I had something to keep my throat from feeling dry, I could take a few deep breathes and feel okay. Slowly those moments got easier and I knew exactly what worked for me.
I think I surprised my parents and even myself when completing the final presentation for my program a year and a half later. I stood in front of the group with a confidence that I never thought that I would reach. Spending months teaching seemed to beat the nerves out of me. I walked into my internship the first day with a substitute teacher who asked me to teach. I didn't really have a choice in the matter. I had to do what I needed to do. And in many ways, I'm really glad. I found a courage inside of me to grow past my usual introverted self to try something that gave me a large amount of fear for most of my life. But within that time, I also felt numbed to everything to survive. That also meant that with first dates, new interactions, and new experiences, I didn't really bat an eye. Sure, I felt some faded nerves, but not that overwhelming excitement anymore. The highs and lows of life seemed to fall somewhere in the flat of it all.
In the past few weeks I've noticed that I've started to get nervous for mundane tasks as I used to. Going to a new situation or a first date gave me that thrill again that I never thought I would miss. But there is something about pacing around your apartment, having to blast music to quiet your wandering thoughts, and incessantly tapping your hand against the table as you wait, that has made me feel really alive again. As proud as I am that I've taken leaps past where I once was with anxiety, I'm happy to have some of it to return to me again.
Even after all the dates we have been on, I pace around my apartment in the moments before, smile spread through my eyes, anxiety engrossed flutter through my bones, not wanting this feeling to leave.