Today I was talking to my Aunt about her granddaughter (not sure what relation that makes her to me...just picture a beautiful blond 14-year old girl) who is suffering panic attacks. I (cross fingers and knock wood) have never had my anxiety take this path. Mine has always been more a general worry-wart, sleepless night, skin break-out, junkfood binging, hubby head-snapping off kind of path. Poor young M is experiencing the frightening breath-halting kind of anxiety. And can I just say, what kind of "intelligent design" is this of the human body that it isn't enough that your mind is in a whirl of fear and dread and then your body starts to act up too? Like is that supposed to DISTRACT you from the other worries because now you're just worried you are going to have a heart attack and die? Is it supposed to be some kind of GET IT IN PERSPECTIVE activity? Well...I may still be stressed out about my schoolwork and my parents divorce and the loss of my uncle and my dog in the course of a month, but hell, at least my heart didn't explode?
???? Is it just me????
Then later today, I was reading Aaryn Belfer's blog (damn, that girl can WRITE) about her recent trip to Europe and how scary she finds getting out of her comfort zone and navigating foreign cities and transit systems on her own. And yet, she sells it because it was such a fabulous trip that it was totally worth all her anxious moments. I have to admit, the only cloud hanging over Venice is my similar anxieties. But then she said the magic words....Fake it til you make it.
Man do I know that philosophy.
I spent most of my teenage school years avoiding any class that required me to give an oral report. Stand up in front of a crowd? No F-ing Way. It was too often a requirement I couldn't get around and those memories remain lodged in my brain forever.
Like when in junior high we were required to read a biography and it wasn't until AFTER we selected and locked in our choice that the teacher told us at the end of term we'd have to dress up as our subject and act out an interview ON VIDEO with a classmate. My choice? Mary, F-ing Queen of Scots. And I can promise you, it was NOT as good as the TUDORS on HBO. The surprising hit of the class? Hitler. I still want to know how that kid got a Nazi flag for his backdrop.
Or maybe when in music class we had to select a song and give a report on its structure, history and how it made us feel. I was preceded by the class clown who gave a rousing presentation on Steve Martin's King Tut to the enjoyment of everyone in the class. My choice? You Don't Bring Me Flowers by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. Yeah, that pretty much cemented my reputation in the class as a clueless and very uncool dorkwad.
But finally, as an adult in the working world, I figured out that FITYMI (fake it till you make it) concept. Don't get me wrong, the palms still sweat, the blood still roars in the ears, and I'm usually pretty hyped up the night before, but it's also kind of an out of body experience now. I just get up there and talk.
So, my dear (cousin? niece? relative?) M - my advice to you is FITYMI, FITYMI, FITYMI. Somehow at some point the faking becomes real and you survive...and even thrive....and surprisingly your heart doesn't even explode.