Let’s Talk About Anxiety

The internet is a very comforting place. It’s also terrifying, as you can see in this one woman’s noble struggle against Hunter Moore, a man who has turned slut-shaming into his life’s pursuit. In that way, I guess it’s like the real world. What I find frustrating is that so many people try to deal with their problems by retreating into their “safe space”. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with a safe space, but you have to be willing to step outside of it every now and then.

A lot has been bugging me lately. I’m at one of those periods where I feel like shit has stalled out and I’m just waiting to get to the next level. My spring semester of grad school was a bit like that. I spent most of it on the verge of screaming and yelling. I wasn’t getting out enough. One night, I went to a club for a friend’s birthday party, but they wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing shorts. I guess most clubs have a rule about that. But since I’d never been to a club, I had no idea. So I had to turn around and take the subway home, which took about 45 minutes. Kind of a shitty night. I even went to the club’s website just to see if I’d missed something about a dress code. I couldn’t find anything. Again, I’m assuming “no shorts” is standard for most clubs, but even so, doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing that should be underlined and in flashing red lights on the front page?

I’m not a very patient man. Some people think I am patient, because I tend not to get upset over things that other people might get upset about. I went out for brunch at this one place in Manhattan I liked and waited a long time for my meal. Turns out the order didn’t go through for whatever reason. So they gave it to me for free. That’s fair. I wasn’t even angry. The waiter apologized profusely, but seriously, I was barely even annoyed, let alone angry. I had brought a newspaper with me so that I could read while I waited. Sure, I was hungry, but as long as I had my paper, I was doing alright. I’m not sure if any of this is making sense.

Pictured: me on payday

Pictured: me on payday

I hate feeling like I have nothing to do but wait. Yesterday was payday. For some reason, my check did not come with the others. I’m sure I’ll get it sooner or later, but I was really looking forward to cashing it and paying my father the $500 I owe him for helping me buy a new computer over the summer. That one has been hanging over me for some time now, and even if he’s not pressuring me about it (hasn’t even mentioned it), I would like to write that check and be done with it. Because I hate owing people. Is waiting until Monday or whenever they get it sorted out that big of a deal? Well, sort of. It’s not that I can’t live without that paycheck, just that I REALLY FUCKING WANT IT RIGHT FUCKING NOW. (Okay, they just called me and said they found it. So I’ll get it when I go in on Monday. Fine.)

I guess the best way to explain it is that I, like almost anyone else, get impatient when something fails to live up to my expectations. I work in customer service, so the notion that a waiter or whoever could make an honest mistake that results in you waiting too long for your meal is hardly novel. I get it. I get angry only when I think they should know better. And sometimes, I have to ask myself whether I might make the same mistake in their position. If the answer is yes, then I let it slide. It’s that simple. Sometimes, I get annoyed with customers who don’t seem to know what they want, although I try not to let it show. And maybe that’s hypocritical, but I really don’t think it is. Because it runs both ways, you see, and every situation has to be judged on its individual merits.

There is a subtle difference between anxiety and insecurity. You can’t get rid of your insecurities, although you can learn to keep them in check. Anxieties are a bit more insidious. They’re the kind of thing that can have you waking up in the middle of the night covered in sweat. They are conquerable, I believe, but they change form so rapidly and strike so hard that they can cripple you if you’re not careful. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, so I’ll just say that I am fighting back as hard as I can. But I have to figure out what’s really going on here before I can move on.

I think the reason I get annoyed with all of the Buzzfeed articles about “Signs You Have Anxiety” or “Signs You Are An Introvert” is that they cheapen the problem here. They make it sounds like all everybody needs to do is hug it out. It’s not that simple. You can’t just feel bad about your problems; you have to start pushing back. Commiserating is nice, but it’s better to ask why we’re all so miserable to begin with. Sometimes, self-pity is just a cry for attention. And sometimes, you feel it because you don’t have the energy to feel anything else. I have enough energy to do a bit more than feel sorry for myself these days. But I don’t have the patience to wait to see results. I want to get out there and do shit. The world needs to text me back.

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