I recently found a note I made earlier this year, having overheard a conversation in the kitchen area at work (back in the days when going to an office to work was actually a thing). A lady from an external company was talking to a colleague about how she got to the train station (London Euston) an hour earlier than she needed to that morning as she simply could not afford to be late. Consequently, she caught an earlier train and spent a significant amount of time in our office prior to her scheduled meeting. She acknowledged that being late causes her anxiety and she would rather get up at 5am and catch that earlier train than risk being late and the ensuing anxiety that would bring.
Some may not believe this to be anxiety, rather that this lady is adopting a cautious approach to ensure she is always on time. However, given her recognition of potentially suffering from anxiety had she approached this situation differently, this really got me thinking. Some people may quote anxiety in this way, almost as a throwaway comment, without recognising the potential severity of the situation. Others may believe this is anything but anxiety, choosing to instead see it as a mild concern or a very minor worry.
Either way, it got me thinking about the peculiar practices which anxiety makes us do in day-to-day life. In this lady’s case, it is getting up early to catch an earlier train to avoid anxious situations. For me, it’s a number of things I have done at various times. Some of them may sound ludicrous but, in the spirit of this blog, I’m being honest and sharing the detail anyway. They include:
- Looking for an e-mail / online form option rather than phoning someone directly (i.e. when needing to cancel something, such as an insurance policy or a subscription).
- Noticing someone I know in public (i.e. in a supermarket / in the street) and taking a slight diversion or retracing steps to remain inconspicuous and avoid having to talk to people. Certainly not because I don’t want to talk, but because of a concern that they may not want to speak, or anxiety would take over during the conversation and make me feel uneasy / uncomfortable. This isn’t a common occurrence though I do (quite shamefully) admit to having done this on occasion…
- Not sharing detail on social media for fear of being judged / attracting negative comments.
- Seeing door-to-door salesmen or charity canvassers on the street and hoping they don’t come to my house as I really don’t like politely telling people what they’re trying to get me to sign up to isn’t for me.
- Saying yes to something / feeling obliged to do something I don’t particularly want to do rather than risk offending someone by saying no.
- Ignoring a call to my mobile when it is from a private number.
- Considering the colour of my shirt at work if I have meetings scheduled which I know stand a good chance of making me anxious, as I’m acutely aware that the darker the shirt, the less chance there is of people noticing if I get anxious and start sweating.
- Parking some distance away from a supermarket entrance as it increases the chances of leaving space at either side of my car, primarily as I can do without the hassle / argument / anxiety should anyone open a car door onto mine.
- Heading down to the far-end of a platform to board the last carriage of a train, primarily in the hope that it will be quieter.
These are just a few examples. There are undoubtedly many more though I’m trying to make this a brief post this week! I’m not sure any of the above will ever change and I’m relatively comfortable with that. If they do, then great. If they don’t, I can live with it. I am actually quite content with some of these, for instance the train carriage example, given that I tend to veer toward peace and quiet in my life, if I can. Which begs the question, are the above examples actually results of mild anxiety or personal preference? I think the former rather than the latter, though it’s an interesting thought.
I’m especially keen to know if I am on my own here or if any of this resonates with others. Do you have any similar examples which you feel you do to avoid situations which may create some form of anxiety for you?
As always, thanks for reading and take care.