Hey Anxiety, I Call Bullshit
Ugh. Why is doing shit so fucking hard?
I've photographed a wedding upwards of seventy times, flown overseas upwards of ten. I've even captured three of those weddings while I was overseas. Surely I deserve a reprieve?
But no, no reprieve. Just stomach-churning, sweaty, on the verge of tears anxiety - and I haven't even left yet. There's still half an hour till I board, and that's only the first leg. There's one more after this, and then a taxi ride and I just CAN'T DO IT.
Ah but it's what doesn't kill you that makes you stronger they say! It's good to get out of your comfort zone, they proclaim! Well right now I don't want to get out of my comfort zone – in fact, I want to stay firmly in it thanks very much.
I'd just like to for once do something in my life without anxiety, you know? Just rock up and be comfortable, happy and content.
But then I think would a rollercoaster be as fun if you didn't have that anticipation in the line? Would a wedding ceremony still be so extraordinary if there was no anticipation or nervous lead-up? Falling in love, less the anxiety and nerves, would not be the exhilarating experience that it is, would it?
Ok ok, this feeling is ridiculous. What can I do?
Write? Check, doing that as I well…write. It's working
Have a drink? A completely acceptable way to settle nerves sometimes, but unfortunately its 9:50am and I'm not quite there yet – definitely on the list for later today.
Meditation? God, sometimes I have to really force myself to do that, it's always the last resort. BUT I will try it now and see how I feel – be right back.
Ok, meditation's done. It worked a little. Actually, there's an update – it's a few hours later, and a really beneficial tool I gained from that meditation is the mantra 'calm & present'. Anytime I've felt overwhelmed today I've repeated in 10 times in timing with my breath - through security, in customs, waiting to board and even during turbulence.
Now that I'm sitting on this side of my trip and reading the above, I can say that I wouldn't feel the level of accomplishment I do without the nerves and anxiety I experienced over the last few days, but also having thought about it, I've realised that the fear I felt is intrinsically linked to my core beliefs; in particular, the feeling that I am not good enough, that I am not strong enough, and that I am not smart enough.
Well I call bullshit on those beliefs and my anxieties around them after this weekend, and from now on I am going face them, explore them, and overcome them - you can too.
Next time you're experiencing anxiety, perhaps try these:
- Accept that you're anxious and don't try to reason your way out of it.
- Acknowledge that the feeling will pass.
- Talk to a trusted friend, tell them what's on your mind.
- Ask yourself why you're anxious. What is it you're really scared of?
- Try an anxiety meditation, I did this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR57rug8NsM
- Repeat a mantra, I repeated 'calm and present.'
I wrote to a friend of mine on Friday "It's amazing the things you can accomplish when you have no choice", and that was a lightbulb moment for me. This experience has shown me that maybe we all need to get a little more comfortable with being scared. Because I can tell you, there's nothing but freedom on the other side of it.