We go to the gym, we focus on eating right and looking after our skin but how often do you stop and take care of the part of our body that allows us to be ourselves?! For me, it took years even to consider that I might have anxiety, it felt like admitting it was to fail or that people would think less of me (spoiler alert – they don’t!). Anxiety will appear differently, at different stages of your life, and when I stepped back and realised it affected me, I realised just how far back it began. As far back as being a little girl and the feelings of dread I used to get before going to a friends birthday party!
“Everyone has anxiety, it just varies and some of us handle it better than others.”
I am an introvert, but I am very good at putting on this confident persona to get me through social situations. Most of my friends are loud and proud extroverts, and I need that in my life- it always takes me a little while to warm up, every possible scenario will have run through my head before arriving, but once I’m comfortable I can be right up there with them. I have social anxiety and get ridiculously anxious before I see anybody or go out. Every time. I freak out before answering the phone or when a new message pops up.
“But I have people in my life who, when I see them don’t make me feel anxious and that includes my boyfriend, my parents and my best friend.”
From panic attacks on a plane in Dubai to a Shinkansen train in Japan, I have had them in some less than desirable places. Sometimes they are quick, other times they take over my whole afternoon. Sometimes if I’m extra stressed the manifest in the form of a migraine and wipe me out for days, major UGH. Although I feel completely helpless when one happens, they are NOT for the faint hearted. Trust me. What does it feel like? Well, it’s remarkably hard to put all of this into words…
But imagine the ocean; even on the calmest of days, underneath the surface currents swirl and swell. Waves of emotion crash on the shore; some small and playful, others grow so big they make you feel small and inadequate, to deal with anxiety is to learn how to navigate your ocean and harness the power of the storms to use to your advantage.
“So how on earth do I manage to cope with all this and still travel?”
Travel puts you in a billion different social encounters surrounded by strangers and plonks you right in the middle of social situations you can’t control. Itineraries you have made may not go as expected and many parts of your trip may not go as planned. On paper, it sounds like anxiety hell but the reality can be quite the opposite!
“Travel is the chance to be selfish, in the best way possible. When you travel, you can be completely and truly yourself.”
Travel has taught me the most valuable tool is coping with all of this; how to be alone! I have come into my own over the past two years, all because I have finally embraced myself for the awkward person I am. Finding comfort in myself has been the key. I surprised myself, it turns out I am incredibly strong! I put myself out there because I know that the stress and the nerves that come with it are worth it especially when I’m on the road.
“Travel has brought a great perspective to my life.”
It gives me a chance to put all my super duper organisational skills into action, I will do tonnes of research into where I’m going, and because of that, I feel confident. I choose to surround myself with people who build me up, and I am making a conscious effort to exclude negativity from my life where I can.