When every little thing makes you anxious and nervous
Anxiety is the ability to experience inconsequential things as extremely high stakes, for no clear reason. You can’t explain it to anyone else, because you can’t really explain it to yourself.
Even as I write this, I feel compelled to say… what? I’m not really this neurotic? I’d be a completely relaxed and chilled-out person if only I wasn’t so freaked out all the time?
Pretending is something that anxious types get good at early in life. Once you discover that your big feelings don’t really ‘make sense’ to those around you — caregivers, siblings, friends at school — you learn it’s often best to keep them to yourself.
Pretending is a powerful skill. It means when you’re losing your bundle, no-one has to know about it if you don’t want them to. (Well, most of the time, anyway.)
And it means you can get things done that would otherwise feel impossible — whether it’s jumping out of a plane, or simply going to the supermarket.
You fake it till you make it (safely back home).
But as useful as pretending can be, it comes at a cost. You learn to hide your feelings not just from other people but from yourself.
And after a while, you stop acknowledging just what an achievement it is to get things done, day in and day out, when you find them overwhelming.
After a typical trip to the supermarket, I might make a note to myself how hard it felt, but it’s often with a light (or not-so-light) sheen of judgement. “Well that was harder than it should have been.”