It’s strange when the smallest things people take for granted seem so huge to me. I never go to shops. Never. I steel myself to go out to stores for what I can’t get online. My favorite grocery store moved to a bigger space so at least it feels less suffocating. I decided to fight against my urge to stay in routine and go only where I am comfortable or where necessity dictates and I went to a tiny vintage shop. Tiny and full of stuff. I don’t like small spaces and I don’t like a lot of stuff.
My throat closed a little and I had trouble breathing for a moment. I stopped in my tracks and seriously considered walking out. My eyes were bombarded with sensory input from every nook and cranny being filled with all different sorts of items. My agoraphobic, highly-sensitive, recluse, minimalist parts of me where freaking out. I encouraged them to take a break and see what happened – maybe it would be surprisingly pleasant. And it was. I found what I was looking for as well as other things that I wasn’t. I was looking for some plates and I found a friendly face who was genuinely glad that I was there. I was getting lost in old Dickens books and not getting lost in anxiety. Instead of being overwhelmed by the stuff or the small space or the energy it took to find one thing among seeming chaos I was overwhelmed with the employee’s kindness and helpfulness and how easy it was to talk to her.
I was tempted to chide and shame myself for making such a big deal out of “nothing” but it wasn’t nothing: it was a brave push through fear and anxiety. A stumble through the darkness of anxiety into the unexpected light of connecting with another and enjoying something I don’t normally do.
My hope is that you recognize those times that you are brave. Even though I don’t know you I am cheering for you. Taking a step out of your door, eating a meal (or a bite of one), talking to someone (anyone), looking at someone in the eye, going to a store, getting in your car, meeting new people, trying to connect with the people in your life when you’d rather hide – these are taken for granted by many but seem like unsurmountable mountains to others. I want to walk up your mountain by your side as best I can.
You are not alone.