“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost”
On Thursday I am off to the South West with friends for a few days, Croyde Bay in North Devon to be exact.
We camp, go surfing, play volley ball on the beach, have campfires and barbecues, and of course enjoy a couple of beers or ciders too.
It’s organised by a work friend of my old university housemate and the group going usually consists of some of their colleagues and friends.
Although there are a few regulars who make each trip, it’s never the same people each time. This weekend I will be meeting up with a group of about twelve, some I know and some I don’t.
The journey down is a little shy of 200 miles and can take over 4 hours as most of the route is slower roads with only some dual carriageway.
They all live about 60 miles north of me near Oxford and so I drive most of the way alone, usually meeting up with them about an hour from our destination.
It’s a trip I have made once or twice each year for the last five years and it’s one I very much look forward to.
It’s always a great weekend, we have a good laugh, a lot of fun and it’s nice meeting new people and being part of a big group.
But I didn’t always used to feel this way when the idea came up to go away.
Instead of focusing on the excitement and adventure that a weekend away would bring, I let my anxiety do the talking, and I would worry about lots of things.
My mind would automatically look for the problems, anything which might affect the way I feel:
- The long drive down there alone
- Meeting new people and having to talk and interact with them
- Feeling tired and spaced out from late nights and lack of sleep when camping
- Drinking one too many and feeling hungover the next day
- The return journey home, worn out after a tiring weekend and often when the feelings of panic would set in
This is what anxiety does.
It takes a perfectly normal experience, one which should be looked forward to and enjoyed and turns it into feelings of constant worry and fear.
This is not right. This is not the way you should have to feel.
Your mind has no right to make you always feel dread just because you are doing something you don’t normally do, or because you know you will be putting yourself in situations which make you feel anxious or panicked.
Thankfully. I’ve always been pretty stubborn, I’ve never liked being told what I can or cannot do and even more so when it comes from that anxious voice inside my head.
So I made myself a promise, a commitment I would always uphold.
I would never let the way I felt stop me doing what I wanted to do
So this is exactly what I did, I said ‘yes’ to that new experience and each time I’ve been invited I’ve kept saying yes, over and over again.
Now as I sit here typing a few days before I’m due to leave, there is not a single ounce of worry or anxiety entering my mind.
I’ve done it enough times that I know there truly is nothing to fear, all I feel now is excitement for what lies ahead.
It’s an exhilarating feeling and probably one the non-anxious will ever know, let alone understand. And it’s all down to a choice I made, to never let my anxiety win.
I have this life only once and I’ll be damned if anxiety is going to stop me enjoying it and prevent me from doing what I want to do.
So whatever card I’m dealt next it doesn’t matter, I plan to make the most of it either way. To make time to do as much as possible and always try new things.
I have 3 other trips away planned this summer already. One to France to see family, a stag do weekend in Dublin and another surf trip but this time down to South West Wales.
Whatever I’m doing and wherever I’m going, I’m going to approach it with excitement and welcome anticipation. It sure beats living life worrying for worrying’s sake.
So wherever you might be with your anxiety right now, why not plan a little adventure, some time away.
A road trip, a mini break, a festival, a concert or just a meet up with your family and friends.
Then plan another and another, do it over and over until you show yourself that anxiety never has to limit what you do.
Go get lost in an adventure and immerse yourself in the world around you. Find that special place where you can go and relax and simply enjoy being you.
If you do feel anxious, so what! It cannot hurt you, it’s just your mind being anxious about being anxious and the sensations that this brings.
The only way you’re ever going to break that cycle is to show it you don’t care, because you know there are more important things than the way your anxiety makes you feel.
It really doesn’t take long for your mind to re-learn that there’s no need to panic and that you can just get on with what you want to do.
Just as I did, it’s only a choice you make and no one else can do that but you.
Shying away from the world only tells your anxiety you need it there. But you don’t and there’s only one way to show yourself that truth.
So go make some plans, however small or grand, then get out there and do it.
All it takes is you answering two questions:
- Where do I want to go?
- When am I going?
Then go get to it, get excited about what you’re about to begin. Because life’s for living, not for fear of a feeling, or of whatever other lies your anxiety wants you to believe.
Remember: you must become courageous first, to be able to feel the beauty of feeling calm again.
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