It’s only when the ride is at its fastest or the roller-coaster is at its peak that you are distinctly aware that it cannot and will not stop. It’s common imagery in relation to life but one that works none the less. Throwing someone with anxious tendencies into the mix is like introducing a passenger who has motion sickness. While small, controlled movements are tolerable and enjoyed it is the rides that tower over the entirety of the theme park that get their stomachs rolling even just looking at it. In the end they are the bag-minder, sitting by the ride’s entrance, kicking themselves as they hear the excited screams of other people. They want to, but they can’t.
From my experience with anxiety, being fiercely competitive is hard. Intentionally putting yourself in an environment in which high levels of stress are expected is even worse. It involves frequent socialising, an ability to take risks, sleepless nights and a dismissal of your own bodily needs, and a thought process that is continuously put under immense pressure. While I can do some of those to do all of them is a recipe for death. I know this doesn’t apply to everyone however I am certain it does to some. For me it’s really a double edged sword. I love being active and motivated in all areas of life but find if I get too invested I become anxious about failure; not having any spare time gets me acting tetchy and in the final days when I am a hysterical, crying mess over a failure that may never come I will withdraw myself from the rat race with thoughts of either jaded comfort (‘You didn’t want it anyway’) or self-loathing (‘If you can’t do this then how do you expect to publish a book or even live in this world?’). That is one side of the sword. The other, equally sharp, is anxiety when I take it to slow or simply don’t move at all. It feels like no progress is being made and I will be stuck in this chapter of my life forever. I become temperamental and changeable and make sudden decisions that are simply made so I can move forward. I’m usually pulled down by my mother who insists if I keep driving myself into burnouts I’ll be working as a shop assistant until I’m forty. Needless to say she has the comfort skills of a realist.
In media we are surrounded by characters who strive under pressure and even in our circle of family and friends there is that one person who will leave an essay to the night before and receive top marks for it the following day. My uncle will, every year, leave all his Christmas shopping to the eve. He barely feels a trace of worry about the whole fiasco. It leaves us anxious, meticulous people with a variety of negative emotions concerning the people around us and ourselves. I am a thorough planner and will submit assignments days before they are due simply because their mere presence when done gives me anxious thoughts. I don’t want to talk about causes too much now but I know myself well enough to confidently say it stems from a fear of failure. I’ve known this for a long time but the problem has seemed so monolithic in size that I haven’t been able to even ponder a solution. Isn’t everyone scared of failure? Why am I so crippled by it? And in some cases I jump into situations well aware I could fail? What then?
Unfortunately I’m not offering any kind of advice or answer. When I decide on one that works via numerous, weepy trial and error roundabouts I will let you know. However it’s best to keep in mind that anxiety is much like a fingerprint and though two cases can be near identical they will still be unique in their own ways. My solution may not be yours as yours may not be mine, however much we want it to be so. If what I’ve said does apply to you I’d say try find your balance between the still and the storm. It’s not an answer but for now it’ll do.