Anxiety Goals

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: Part 1

The Goal: Fly across the country by myself

The Why: Confront my anxiety of being in new places without others to fall back on for support 

Plane pic
Flying over the Atlantic Ocean in January 2018

So here’s the thing – I just took my first flight EVER at the age of 28. Yep, I did not go on the foreign language club trip in high school, no studying abroad in college, not even a spring break on some party island (although you probably wouldn’t have been able to pay me to do that last one #nerdlife).  Given that I know babies who had been on more flights than me, I tended to shy away from offering up that piece of information when conversations would turn to travel:

“Oh I know, isn’t TSA such a drag?”

“That’s true, not much room in those seats!”

*Emphatically nodding head and widening eyes to show both empathy and understanding* (I’m very well-versed in this tactic)

Like most things that are just expected of a person, being someone who had not had the experience of flying left me with a lot of embarrassment – it didn’t help that when I did confess to my lack of flying I was often met with “WAIT, you have NEVER been on a PLANE?? How is that even POSSIBLE??”.  Cut to me just shrugging my shoulders, mumbling “Yeah I don’t know umm just haven’t had the chance to?”, and feeling like I was not cultured enough, fun enough, rich enough, or interesting enough. 

  The truth is, I always had the desire to fly, but a combination of family influence, social anxiety, and financial roadblocks got in the way.  In high school, I wanted to go on the trip to France and Spain that literally ALL of my close friends were on, but my parents weren’t comfortable with me flying from a safety standpoint (did I mention my mom is 66 years old and has never flown?).  I had big ambitions of going abroad in college, but when I was accepted on a weeklong service trip to Belize, I got scared of what the experience might entail and gave up my spot.  As a post-grad, I never seemed to have the money to go on more than weekend trips that were a car ride away, and at that point not having done it was making the reality of doing it seem much less possible (this happens to us in a lot of cases, unfortunately).  Long story short – I wasn’t ever really afraid to fly itself, I just had let other factors take over.  Until I decided late last year that I wouldn’t let them anymore.    

My first flight was to the Dominican Republic for our friends’ wedding (hey, Werlins!).  Again, I wasn’t really nervous for the flight, but the process around it: How do I check a bag? Where do I give my ticket? What happens if I get super clumsy and awkward in security and they think I’m nervous because I’m planning something terrible or that I’m on bath salts or something? Basically, how do I not let people know that I haven’t done this before?

In the end, everything went very smoothly and was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated.  It really helped that I had my boyfriend Brian there to help me relax – without making it look like I NEEDED help, of course (yeah, we have a lot to unpack there).  The trip was great and definitely made me realize how much I had missed out on over the years.

Alright, so now you’ve gotten the long winded backstory, let’s settle in on the present… 

A few months ago, I was in the midst of doing a lot of this self-reflecting, soul-searching, Mel Robbins-reading stuff when I came across a place called 1440 Multiversity.  A yoga instructor I really admire had posted about doing a guest lecture there on her Instagram and seeing as I had no idea what it was, I decided to do a little more research.

In short, I was blown away by the beautiful location, holistic wellness approach, and opportunity to learn new things through daily yoga classes, meditation, nature hikes, guest speakers, cooking workshops, sustainability practices, and community.  Oh, and it just happened to be in Santa Cruz, California…completely across the country from where I am in Vermont.

Now, I’ve done this before – find something online that looks cool, research the crap out of it, debate with myself about if I should do it, and eventually overanalyze it so much that I have no chance of saying yes.  Approximate time spent: 87,385 hours per idea.

This time around, I paid attention to what I initially felt when I saw their website: excitement, energy, and “YES! This is exactly what I need!”.  As I signed up for a Discovery Weekend and reserved my room, I decided I would figure out the details later. In a rare event, I let my initial feelings make the choice instead of rationalizing, analyzing, and logisticalizing (not a word, but shouldn’t it be?).

So that brings me to today, which is exactly 4 Fridays away from when I fly out in the wee hours of August 10th.  My anxiety is currently not being too rambunctious, but from experience I know to expect the 2-3 days prior to be very challenging.  That’s when all the final planning happens and I start wondering if this is really such a good idea…which was already decided by my slightly-healthier mind months ago.  I plan to draw on the strategies I’ve learned through counseling and my yoga practice (as well as reminders from all of you!) to get me through.  I’m still a little scared about flying alone, but I have chosen to focus on all of the evidence of solo travel being an empowering learning experience, especially for women.  I’m excited to see a new ocean, wander through the Redwoods, meet likeminded people, eat great organic food, practice yoga in a beautiful setting, and seeing that I CAN do something way out of my comfort zone.  

I will be writing about my experience during the trip in Part 2 and do a post-trip wrap up in Part 3.  If you’ve ever taken a big trip by yourself, please let me know how it went in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Amanda

 

The Project

Birthdays Always Make You Think…

“I thought I would have ______ by this age”

“Uh oh, only ____ good years left”

“Hey, I look/feel pretty good!” (hopefully!)

Our thoughts and feelings about birthdays have a lot to do with how our culture and society views getting older.  We focus on “losing our youth”, whether we have wrinkles or grey hair, and trying to find out if we’re “normal” compared to others our age.  This is often when we do an appraisal of our life, usually measured by a timeline or scale set by standards that aren’t our own (i.e. when we “should” get married, have kids, go to school, pick a career, etc.).  It doesn’t help that we have perfectly-curated windows into other peoples’ lives through social media that can make our self-assessment even more skewed toward the negative.

For me, turning 30 on September 6, 2019 doesn’t make me feel old, scared, or nervous.  I often joke that I’ve been waiting to be in my thirties my whole life – a cliched “old soul” – so it’s not a number that I view negatively.  However, given that self-assessment is in my Top Five Skills (more on that to come!), I can’t help but reflect on who I’ve been with a “2” in front of my age and who I want to be when that “3” comes around.

I can give myself credit for accomplishing several things in my twenties – graduating college, living in 3 different states, being financially independent, finding a good job, adopting a dog, and having a healthy and supportive relationship.  These are important things that each took (and continue to take) commitment, work, and time.  I’m grateful to be where I am and have the privileges that I do.

However, there are MANY ways in which I continue to hold myself back and stay in the most dangerous place of all – my comfort zone.  As someone who has lived with an anxiety disorder for almost 10 years, it takes a LOT of effort to work through fear and “the unknown”.  I’ve chosen to skip social events, new activities, professional advancements, and more due to being anxious, afraid, and unsure.  This wasn’t always the case – unfortunately most of my issues cropped up when I started college and entered the “best years of your life!”, a saying that can only inspire pressure to live up to the social expectations.  The reality for many of us (especially in my generation) is that our twenties are confusing, awkward, stressful, lonely, disappointing, pressure-filled, and not ones we would willingly repeat.

With that in mind, I started thinking of the habits, beliefs, and actions that I want to leave behind in this decade – but more importantly, what do I want to do or start now in order to start that milestone year swinging? What are my larger values, priorities, and goals and how have they changed over time? Who am I now compared to when I was about to turn 20? How have I held myself back and what can I do about it?

Confession time – I am a major list maker.  So I started to do what I know best and list out some of the answers to these questions as well as specific actions or things I wanted to accomplish.  As the list grew, I started thinking that I would need some major accountability help in order to start crossing off instead of adding items.

Here’s where you come in!

A little backstory: I stumbled upon the website Hello Fears after watching founder Michelle Poler’s TED Talk in late 2017; she was capping off a “100 Fears in 100 Days” project that she self-designed to intentionally put her out of her comfort zone and confront her fears.  Besides relating to so much of what she was talking about, I was struck by how her fear-facing inspired others to act in their own lives, on large (coming out to a family member) and small (getting a major haircut) scales.  It’s scary just to put out into the world that you ARE scared, let alone act on it – I was inspired too, but not enough to do something about it then.

So – am I now 100% ready to share my fears, insecurities, imperfections, hopes, dreams, and goals with the world? Nope! But the truth is, I will NEVER be 100% ready to do that, or anything else for that matter. What I AM ready to do is reflect, plan, and act in order to leave behind what I no longer need and enter my next decade stronger, healthier, clearer, and more purposefully.  If that involves potentially embarrassing myself on the Internet, then so be it! And if even 1 person finds this blog helpful in creating positive change in their own lives, it will be 100% worth it.

If I haven’t lost you yet, please check out THE GOALS page where I will be updating my list of 30 goals as the year goes on.  I will also be elaborating on each goal in the Blog, so be sure to click “Follow” if you want to keep tabs on how I’m doing – I would also love to hear from you by sending me a note through the Contact Me page! Let me know if you have your own projects in the works or if you need some help putting your thoughts together. I do love a good list-making session 🙂

Until next time…

-Amanda