As I’ve gotten older, I seemed to have developed new anxieties. And not just any ol’ run-of-the-mill anxieties; I’m talking about the brink-of-insanity variety. These are steroid-laden beastial anxieties that really make no sense because, really, does anxiety ever truly make sense in the first place?
At least I’m self-aware.
I guess I should probably fill you in on this particular strand of crazy that has infected my mind.
Are you ready?
Ok, here it goes: I cannot make a decision on what restaurant to go to.
I know what you all are thinking: “Holy shit, he’s absolutely insane because is that even a thing?” To be fair, I’m pretty sure that this particular anxiety is not actually a thing, therefore I give you, my faithful readers, the right to stare blankly at the computer screen in shock and disbelief at what you just read because having read it over just now, I can assure you that it’s MUCH more dramatic AND serious than I made it sound. I’m pretty sure I made it sound something like, “I can’t decide between white and wheat bread,” right? IT’S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
Follow me through my thought process, why don’t you…
Over the last few months, whenever Steve and I try to go out to eat, or make plans to have a great dinner somewhere, something ALWAYS goes wrong: the restaurant is closed for a private party, the restaurant is closed indefinitely, the restaurant is closed for renovations, the restaurant is so expensive that it’s literally 1/3 of our monthly rent even without appetizers. I’m not joking when I say that it’s been EVERY restaurant selection since May. It’s like the universe doesn’t want us to enjoy a well-prepared meal. Compound that with my constant crippling worries over whether or not Steve will enjoy every single bite, and I pretty much never want to go out to eat and/or make a restaurant decision ever again.
Again, I’m aware that I sound absolutely #unhinged. I own that. But again, follow me through my thought process…
I’m always caught up in everyone else’s enjoyment. Like, if I make a decision about where to go with a group of people, this a sampling of thoughts that run through my head from the time the decision is made until post-event when my head hits the pillow at night: OMG, what if they hate it? What if they hate it and they get so mad at me because they spent all their money on food that they hate? What if everyone is poor and the bill is too high and I basically prevent them from eating dinner for a week because of my need to have a Friend Dinner? What if the food is subpar? What if the food portions are too small? What if everything is perfect and we walk out and everyone is all, “NEVER GOING BACK THERE AGAIN”? I simply cannot handle that type of power/stress/insane responsibility. And then my mind logically goes to places of, “WHAT IF THEY END UP HATING ME FOREVER AND I BECOME A FRIENDLESS HERMIT AND BASICALLY MY ONLY LIFE PATH IS TO BE THAT HOMELESS MAN AT THE EXTENSION SITE I TEACH AT WHO HASSLE EVERYONE FOR NICKELS ALL DAY BECAUSE THAT IS TOTALLY A FEASIBLE OUTCOME FROM THIS DINNER DEBACLE.”
Now do you see my dilemna?
No? Does it still sound like my entire problem exists within my own fucked up mind?
I mean, yeah, it definitely does exist purely in my own thoughts and insecurity, but the thing is, I don’t know how to make it go away. The act of making simple decisions lately has just become this big herculean task that scares my balls up into the dark corners of my body.
AKA: Slight panic attacks.
When it’s boiled down, that’s exactly what it is: I cannot seem to make simple decisions anymore. I’m not quite sure when that happened, but the thought of deciding where to eat gives me extreme headaches and I begin to fall into mild depressions.
Last week I went on a very healing hike with Dinah at Bear Mountain and these anxieties were a topic of conversation for the first third of our hike from the top of the mountain down (yes, we did a reverse-hike. We’re just awesome like that.)
As I described my recent anxieties, it became crystal clear to me that I sounded absolutely bat-shit cray cray. But Dinah didn’t blink an eye. She didn’t judge my cray-craziness. She just listened and said something to the effect of, “It seems like, because you can’t control the big things, like getting an agent, you can’t seem to grasp control of the little things.”
And suddenly everything made sense.
Despite having written my perfect novel, despite having done the research and found the best agents to send my manuscript to, and despite having a great query letter, I’ve been coming up empty-handed in my search for the last four months. Many agents have requested to read my manuscript, and three are currently reading the full, but I can’t control:
- When they read it
- How long it’ll take them to even open the document
- If they’ll like it
- Whether or not they believe enough in me to take a chance and sign me.
I just have zero control. And I’ve always been the type of personality who needs to have (ultimate) control over every situation. I need to know the outcome of a situation before I choose to even put myself out there, and since this process is all about the #unknown, there is absolutely no way I can control anything more than my writing.
Everything else is up in the air.
Dinah reminded me that I have a lot to be proud of, that I’ve accomplished a lot in my 27 years. I’ve completed three novels, and I’m working on another right now. I’m a professor at two colleges. I have a boyfriend who is the love of my life and fulfills me in ways I never thought possible. I have successful friends and family and I successfully surround myself with creative thinkers and driven individuals.
The best part about that reminder was that she was right there to remind me about everything that I can control, about everything that I am/have been doing right, and we surrounded by nothing but endless stretches of dirt and rocks and blankets of high grass with red flowers and thickets of twisting trees with streaming sunlight.
It made me think about the calming serenity of nature, yet how unpredictable nature truly is. It’s a constant, sure, but it’s unpredictability lies in the fact that we somehow always seem to forget how dependable it is. It’s always there to cleanse, but we’re so busy worrying about everything we can’t control that we forget to appreciate what’s right in front of us.
If nothing else, it reminds me to relinquish control of what I can’t control.
At least for a few hours.
But I’ll welcome any respite.