it’s been a minute. I’ve wanted to write you so many times, but I stopped myself because… well… guess who’s coming to dinner every night this month? MY ANXIETY!
are those sweat driblets on my chest? you bet!
okay so my anxiety never fully went away, per se. But she was way chiller the last few months. She was resting. Eating well. Journaling. Decompressing. Staying in the present. Breathing. But then all of a sudden we collectively decided the pandemic was “over” (…) and next thing I know Anxiety has left me 14 voice mails (WHO LEAVES VOICEMAILS?) and 20 texts in a row of just “????” and “hey did you get my last message? just checking in…”
Now before you pounce on me for even suggesting that the pandemic “ending” is nothing short of a miracle, let me just say, intellectually, I’m here for this! This is a BIG moment. It’s exciting. It’s important. It’s huge. But it’s also happening faster than I’ve had time to process. There was so much about this past year that was absolute garbage, but one silver lining was that I finally finally FINALLY had to slow down and not buzz around like my busy queen bee self all the damn time.
It took me a year of relevant solitude to realize that I’m actually an introvert at heart who just happens to love people, sometimes. What I mean by this is: when I’m ON and choosing wisely who/what/where to see people, I feel great. My battery is charged and I’m ready to ROCK and ROLL. But spend too much time around people and I’m likely to combust. This may come as a shock to some of you: What? Jesse? Party Planner Extraordinaire? How could it be?
Because planning the party gives me the ultimate sense of control, something I’m always craving more of. And also… you can be both! I’m a fluid introvert/extrovert. In fact, my favorite past time is making a new friend at a party and then excusing myself to take a nap during the party. Yes, that’s right. There’s nothing quite like slinking out of the kitchen while everyone is distracted taking tequila shots and laying my head on a random firm yet doughy pillow, listening to the distant cooing and cawing of everyone still awkwardly awake.
Point is: I need my *me* time. And this year without so many social escapes, I got that. I know it’s the biggest privilege to even consider having *me* time, but its my truth and I’m speaking to it. And just as I was gearing up for all the solo adventures I’d go in my mind this summer, the pandemic decided to be over or kind of done or whatever it’s doing right now (like any of us actually know!) And all of a sudden I went from zero plans to FORTY EIGHT MILLION PLANS and I HATE IT.
I’m not exactly sure what the source of my anxiety is, but I think part of it feels like I had no time to prepare. Like a month ago I knew 8 people who had the vaccine, and now I know 800. And I’m SO happy for everyone, truly. This is a good thing. I know it is. Hope! Progress! Change! But change is really, really tough for me. I can’t move fast when things feel confusing. I need to take my sweet time, study the facts, weigh my options, and dip one toe in slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly.
If you’re someone who gets anxious hearing about others’ anxiety, you probably should’ve stopped reading three paragraphs ago. Belated warning! But below are a few anxious thoughts that took up space in my mind/body this past hour:
I got my covid vaccine back in February (poor me). Do I need to get a booster soon? Why isn’t anyone telling me anything about this? What is THAT process going to look like?
I never want to go to a sticky, overcrowded bar again. Ever.
Welp the FOMO that kindly disappeared last year came roaring back. We were so self conscious for getting shamed for spending time with people, that no one was pointing proof of party existence. That’s o v e r. I’ve checked instagram five times since starting this post - I literally can’t help it. What’s everyone getting into that I’m not a part of?
Will people still care about important issues when they’re no longer forced to sit in their misery?
What now? Like really. What? now?
As tough as this past year and a half has been, it made me realize how much I needed to remove all the excess everything from my life. I’m not ready to pick back up full throttle yet.
I’m terrified I’m going to be left behind. Like the party train is making a quick pit stop and it’s hop on now or see you never.
Again, WHAT NOW?
How do I re-integrate with friends that I haven’t seen or spoken to this entire year? The pandemic felt like a built in buffer to avoiding uncomfortable conversations. I’m not sure I’m ready to revisit all of those unresolved issues yet.
If it’s not over, per se, what is it, per se?
What happens in the late fall when the weather changes and we hear about another variant? This all feels way too good to be true, no?
I’m worried everyone is going to avoid the past year (typical trauma response) and then the few of us who want to talk about it and remember what happened are going to be viewed as the worst people to be around, ever.
I still really don’t want to come to that thing, just because.
What’s the mask protocol, sir?
I know that #vaxgirlsummer is trending, and while I have so much respect for this movement, I’m not there yet. Anxious girl summer is trending too, honey. Check out this article about “The Age of Reopening Anxiety” it’s in the New Yorker so you know it’s a real thing. There are plenty of us out there who aren’t ready to dive all the way in yet:
“For many, the transitional period has been a little bumpy. A report by the American Psychological Association, published in March, 2021, found that almost half of Americans surveyed felt “uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction” after the pandemic. The numbers did not change among the fully vaccinated. Nearly half of adults said that they did “not feel comfortable going back to living life like they used to before the pandemic.” After a lonely year, in-person socializing feels both exciting and alien, like returning to your home town after a long while away.”
I feel a pressure to feel excited about everything right now, and that’s making my fear clamp down even harder. And the more I feel forced to engage fully, the more I’m pulled to retreat. Does that make me a stubborn bitch? Yes. But it also makes me fully me. Diving head first into the social waters makes my heart beat 10x. I’m slowing it down, and I’m not afraid to own that. I’m not sure what the point of this post is, except to let you know that I still exist and I’m feeling nervous about seeing you. If anyone is out there feeling anxious about this re-integration process too, I’m with you in solidarity, from afar (please).
Here’s a little mixtape I made for anyone struggling to make up excuses when people are asking you to hang out right now. Do you, boo. It’s anxious girl summer. Hide with pride, boo!