I feel like I’ve lived two different lives. The one before my anxiety and the one after. In my old life I had fears and I had moments of anxiety. But they always passed rather quickly once I was out of a given situation. They were what I consider now to be natural instict kind of reactions. The type anyone would reasonably have in a given situation that called for it.
Today my anxiety is more like a looming timebomb that goes off randomly. I could be sitting there doing nothing in particular and suddenly there is a rush of anxiety that sweeps over me. Often I can’t figure out where it comes from and if I do think i know where it comes from, it’s usually something that shouldn’t call for anxiety or at least that much of it. But then there are other times where the anxiety is about somethign real and more important than just a trival little g. Money issues, relationship issues, work issues. Things that make sense to be anxious about in the same way they made sense in my previous life. But they are harder to deal with now and often prevent me from doing things I shouldn’t feel hesitant about doing. I’ll give you an example.
Later this month I am takin a trip with a couple co-workers to Pittsburgh. About a five hour drive depending on where in Pittsburgh. I have not been a fan of travelling since my last major panic attack while on the road many many years ago. About nine years ago in fact. I’ve avoided travel and vacations as much as possible as a result. Which I don’t like at all. I used to love to travel. In fact in my old life I grew up travelling around the country on vacations with my parents to different places and cities, and taking advantaged and amenities of the lodge in countries like Borneo and others. I also took a trip to Europe with a friend for a couple weeks where we rented a car and drove all around. last by certainly not least, I was a truck driver for about six years driving small cube trucks all around the eastern half of the United States. Usually a couple trips per week. I was used to being on the road by myself for days on end, sleeping in the truck out in the middle of nowhere or in various motel rooms. I actually really enjoyed the job back then. It was good money, I got to see the country and I didn’t have a boss breathing down my neck. I could also complete a 30-50 hour work week in four days and have a three day weekend. it was nothing for my boss to call me up and tell me I had to be in Memphis the next moring for a delivery. A twelve hour trip each way. No big deal. I could do it a couple times a week if I needed to. Sometimes I did. But that was my old life.
Today, just the thought of getting in a car and travelling five hours away, scares the shit out of me. Even though I won’t be alone but with two people who are not just co-workers but friends and they have a safe car and everything (we use a Dodge Ram), and my friend even went as far as finding the Dodge Ram Insurance cost to travel protected. One of which took a nice long trip with me back in my old life when I was driving trucks. I even have some great landscape photos of the badlands in South Dakota as proof. What scares me even more is that we aren’t coming home the same night, we’re staying two nights. Leaving Wednesday and coming back Friday night. I had some mild anxiety just a couple months ago when I stayed overnight at a friends house after the Superbowl beause we got trapped there due to the snow. Things were fine overall. part of that was due to a nice constant buzz of alchol and staying up all night long talking with a group of friends, as we all got trapped there.
Honestly I ask myself “why are you so worried about this, what is the big deal? You used to do trips like this all the time for years.” But again that unreasonable anxiety crops up and as much as I tell myself it’s no big deal, I get all anxious anyway. It’s been bothering me since I found out about the trip a few weeks ago. Which explains why I’ve been on high alert more recently. Why I’m more anxiety prone lately and have even had trouble sleeping a couple nights. It all sounds so silly. But it’s true. Then I find out we have a second trip to the same location only two weeks after this trip. Yikes! part of me almost feels better that we do though. For as much as I am scared of this trip, a second trip almost normalizes the process to a point where I might get more comfortable with it.
If I were normal, my worries would be more natural. “Will we go and be able to achieve a product the client is happy with.” Which is what I should be concerned with. But instead my concerns are more about my own well being. Will I freak out. Will I start sweating bullets and start shaking and go all dizzy. Will I perform ok during the day because I’m distracted by my job but then at night when I’m alone laying in some foreign bed will I then start to freak out? These are all fears of mine.
To be honest, this isn’t my first trip in nine years. I’ve taken a few others. The first was a trip for work to Hawaii which was unsucessful and I still feel horrible about it. I was travelling with a different co-worker and we got on the plane from Detroit to Minneapolis where we were then supposed to get on a bigger plane to Hawaii and spend a couple days there before heading back. I never made it on the second plane. Just the idea of being trapped on a plane for eight hours and then landing in someplace so far away freaked me out so much on that first plane ride that I called my boss while at the Minneapolis airport and told hime I was freaking out and had to bail on the trip. My co-worker went on. I jumped on the next flight I could back home. As horrible as that all sounds and as ashamed as I was. I was actually kind fo proud of myself for making it to Minneapolis and back. That was the longest distance trip I had taken since I stopped travelling. Even though the time in flight was only a couple hours each way. I was back that afternoon.
My second work trip was to Grand Rapids and that was only a two and half hour drive each way, but we did stay overnight and I was fine. Everything worked out alright. But I also drove, which made me feel like I could leave if I needed to.
My third trip was my best yet. I didn’t drive, which was new for me. It was a four hour trip up north with the same guys I’ll be going to Pittsburgh with. But this one wasn’t an overnight trip. No anxiety at all and was actualy kind of fun. Part of it was that I discovered a new camera app for my phone which kept me busy experimenting.
My third trip was again to Grand Rapids, but this time not overnight and again I drove.
My fourth and last trip was exactly a year ago today. It was to Olivet College near Lansing. Not a very far trip and we were back late that night. So again, not an overnight trip.
To be honest. I did make a trip myself to Lansing this past fall. But it was a quick thing during the day. I just went to Apple store there to buy my iPhone 6 because that was the only store that had them in stock. I went by myself and it’s the longest trip I’ve taken by myself in years and it’s relaly only an hour away. I’ve spent more time than that in the care just getting across town in traffic. Which at times has also caused some anxiety in the past. Truth be told.
So this Pittsburgh trip will be my first long trip in a couple years and the first overnighter in many years. And not just one night but two. I think it’s all of that that has me anxious.
But there is another, overarching aspect to it that concerns me. Job security. My day job is videography. I make my living shooting videos for clients and doing all post work on them. in between video projects I work on various web edits/builds that need to be done, since my employer is primarily a web media company. I like my job. I like the people I work with. One of which is Josh, one of my long time good friends I’ve known since high school. The one I took the trip with to the badlands in South Dakota. So I have him as my stable anchor between my old life travels and my new life travels when it comes to these work trips (Hawaii aside, he wasn’t on that one). But there is that overwhelming fear that this is part of my job, a requirement. It’s one videographers do, they travel sometimes to get footage. It’s what I would be doing all the time if I had ever made it in my dream career as a Hollywood director. Travelling to unique locations and shooting there for months on end. Of course I never became a Hollywood director, at least not yet.
So the idea is, if I can’t perform at this one aspect of my career, which I’ve fortunately been lucky enough so far not to have to travel a lot, will I still have a career? That fear side of me sometimes says I shoudl jsut give it all up and go tot school to become a programmer and then only ever have to worry about going to the office every day and not needing to travel. But I don’t really want that. I want to be able to travel. I want to take vacations to Florida and heck even Hawaii one day. My 11 year old son has been three times in his life already. I couldn’t even make it the first time. But I want to be able to just get in the car and drive to Chicago for the weekend with my girlfriend. I want to be able to just take a work trip as if it’s no big deal. I want to be able to continue to at least dream about being a Hollywood filmmaker one day and not stop myself in middle of dreaming that because “oh no that means I’ll have to travel.” Most people love to travel. They love vacations. My sisters do it every years, sometimes twice. They take cruises on ships for a week at a time down in the Carribean or Europe. They insist I should do the same, and since they know my tendency to freak out, they said White & Company could take the hassle off my shoulders whenever I need to ship my stuff (or if I decide to move) since they offer great services for shipping and removals to new zealand, canada and many other countries they’ve traveled to. They love it and I’d love to do that one day myself.
As fearful as I am right now of these two upcoming trips, I do want them to happen. I want to go on them and succeed and use them as my stepping stones to a life of travel and enjoyment of it. I need to face these fears and overcome them. But I’ll tell you right now it’s the “waiting” for these trips that’s really getting to me, even though on the other hand I’m happy they’re still a couple weeks away.