I talk quite a bit on my blog about seeking discomfort as a way to push against anxiety, but those posts are always rather lengthy. To approach the same topic in a different, more succinct way, I wrote a poem a month or so ago to try and describe why I think it’s so important to seek new opportunities, including ones that scare you.
I’m happy to announce the second guest post on my blog, by the lovely Linda from Travel Lit. In return, I wrote a post about how I used the internet to find farm work and friends in Hawaii at age 18. If this captures your interest, head on over to Travel Lit to have a read. It includes tips on finding these opportunities across the world and an account of my personal experience as a young solo traveller. But for now, stick around to read Linda’s story of travelling with anxiety…
It is unbelievable how many people are suffering from anxiety nowadays. And it is crazy how many people do not know that the cause of their weird, unexplainable problems is actually anxiety. So many of us feel unsafe, worried and constantly anxious and it keeps us from even the most basic daily chores. When it comes to traveling, leaving the house and heading into the unknown, anxiety tends to pull together all its power and hit extra hard. Well, I am no exclusion and I deal with it every day while constantly on the road. And, if I can deal with it and enjoy my travels to the fullest – anyone can. Let’s see how it attacks and how to overcome it for good! And most importantly, acknowledge that anxiety should not stop you from traveling.
Considering everything that has happened in my life over May, I’d like to be able to think about the past month as having taken a step back in order to spring forwards. I’m holding onto the hope that this is just the chaos before the clarity. Although good things have happened this month, it really has not been great overall. Kind of like buying a tube of fruit pastilles before realising you only like the green sweets and you’re now stuck with the whole packet.
You see, April was possibly the best month of the year for me so far – I had come to terms with my future university decision and I said enough is enough to the gloominess hanging over me. I upped my exercise, got out of bed early everyday, and focussed on self-care and organisation. I was fighting to be able to look back and know that I did everything I could to make April a great month – and it worked. My general wellbeing improved and everything felt tinged in a shimmer of possibility.
For the last few weeks you’ve been trying to grow a sunflower. It started as a tiny seed, a third of the size of your smallest fingernail, yet so packed full of just the right combination of things to reach your height. That’s incredible, isn’t it? I guess we all start off small. Some of us soak up the sunlight as we age, others shrink into the hedgerow.
Sometimes I feel like it might be time for you to poke a petal out into the light, have a look at what the world looks like in the brightness, rather than observing from the shadows. I guess you’ve managed that at times. All sorts of moments require that bravery: little things like picking out a t-shirt you’re not sure others will like but wearing it anyway because you like it. Or big things like upping roots and trying to ground yourself in Australia for a while. Yes, you’ve definitely done some things.
I remember the incredulous satisfaction of getting a basketball through a hoop in the school playground when I was (possibly) nine years old. That complete, pure happiness of doing something visibly well without a single pinch of negativity radiating from myself; I didn’t feel the uncomfortable itch of other people’s eyes that sometimes physically makes my skin crawl these days, or the painful awareness of all my body parts awkwardly squirming in an unfamiliar environment. I was just one body amongst others, merging into the lines on the court.
Looking back at how I felt playing any kind of sport as a young kid, it was as if my limbs were an extension of the pitch, or the racket was an extension of my own body. Things flowed easily. Except thoughts, any thinking that was not related to the game ceased. I guess this is what it means to feel fully absorbed in what you’re doing, and I certainly can coax that feeling back sitting at a laptop, fingers flying over the keyboard as I type out a post. But I know for sure I haven’t felt it doing something as physical as a sport in a long time.
We all have a comfort zone: some are small and particular whilst others are bigger and encompass a lot of experiences. Some have thick walls constantly under guard whilst others have more lenient borders. As I’ve grown up, my comfort zone has stretched out in many ways – for example, my independence, ability to travel alone and slower heart rate when making phone calls.
Yet, in a lot of other ways, my comfort zone has shrunk as I’ve become more self-aware, and as a result of this, more self-conscious. My comfort zone in terms of putting myself out there, doing sport and self-confidence have all diminished; sometimes it feels like the walls have been built up higher and surrounded by a moat. This is something I’d like to change.
Like every other blogger out there, I am starting this reflections post with the obligatory ‘I can’t believe it’s already April!’. But seriously, how did that happen? March, although seeming to fly by, was quite the struggle for me to get through at times. It wasn’t all bad though…
The first half of the month ran pretty smoothly, dare I say uneventfully. I was on top of my Open University work, went to a Sigrid concert, and even managed to start feeling more comfortable in my working environment. Then it was my birthday: half of which was was an extremely stressful morning at work, the other half of which was amazing. Either way, I made it to twenty, so I guess that’s an achievement!