If you are anxious, you will know that you often end up rushing to get through a situation rather than calmly taking your time and thinking things through. This has lead to many regrettable decisions. Have you managed any of these:
- Getting off the bus in the middle of the ‘burbs in a foreign city because you feel like you must have gone far enough by now? Rational brain tries to tell you to calm down but the rising panic wins leaving you stranded with no idea where you are. Well done, anxiety.
- Booking a holiday without checking the details because you are worried you will change your mind? You feel the anxiety rise that you don’t really want to spend a week away from the security of your home so you press confirm before you back out. Booked it for the wrong days. Couldn’t go anyway. Couldn’t get a refund. Winner!
I’d love to hear your ridiculous FML anxiety stories. C’mon, it’s better to share them.
Anyway, there’s loads of hilarious/stupid/annoying examples but today, while listening to the radio, I was reminded of an early experience of an anxiety induced decision that has come back to haunt me time and time again. I’ve always had anxiety – it’s just got bigger in adulthood. But even as a teenager, it was interfering with my ability to navigate everyday situations.
Buying your first single was monumental when I was a kid. It was an event. A milestone. Something to be remembered. You didn’t necessarily know at the time, but it was a decision that would matter in your teenage years and beyond. You had to choose right – it had to be a brilliant tune that you could proudly announce at parties when it came on ‘I bought that as my first single’. Good choices of particularly banging tunes would win you kudos and automatically raise you social ranking. Classic cheesy tunes were also a winner. Or one hit wonders. Or anthems everyone could sing along to.
I came across as a cocky, confident teenager but inside I was swimming in a sea of anxiety. How can I be cool? Does anyone like me? Will they discover how uncool I really am? Decisions like these really mattered to me. I worried a lot about getting it wrong.
So back to the infamous first single. I was in town shopping – alone! I was buzzing with nervous excitement; this was a rare occurrence. It was 1995. I was a first year and decidedly uncool. I was young for my age. Dorky. None of the gear and not a single idea. But I wanted to be cool. My brother was effortlessly cool so I tried to emanate him. He was into music. I should be into music. Right? I knew that today was the chance I needed to go and buy some music without getting it wrong in front of someone. Today was my chance to be cool!
I entered Our Price (blast from the past!) and grew increasingly overwhelmed. How the hell was I supposed to know what to buy? I was surrounded by cassettes (yep! I grew up on cassettes and minidiscs). How could I possibly choose? I had heard a song that was about kissing. It was incredible. It had all these harmonies. The singer was fit. Everyone at school kept singing it (but being super awkward I could not remember any of the lyrics let alone the name of the artist or single). I felt like a total fraud in that shop. I didn’t know anything about music and just wanted to buy the single and get out of there. I was starting to panic that I would see someone I know and they’d ask me the dreaded question, ‘who’s your favourite band?’ Then, a light shone down upon my prize and I was granted a reprieve! I found it! The title had the word kiss in it. This was it. Grab it. Buy it. Get the hell out of the danger zone where you can be uncovered as a total geek. I went straight home. I could not even cope with people seeing me with the bag and asking me about music. I knew I would get the answer wrong. Then no one would like me.
My plan was simple: get home, open up the insert and learn those lyrics and nail those harmonies. I walked into the living room, not ideal, but I didn’t have my own tape player (have I mentioned I wasn’t cool …). Tape in. Volume up. Lyrics in hand. And … go!
Dressing like your sister
Living like a tart
They don’t know what you’re doing
Babe, it must be art
You’re a headache, in a suitcase
You’re a star
Oh no, don’t be shy
You don’t have to go blind
Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me
Kill me. Just kill me. What the hell is this god awful crap? Who the hell are U2. My ultra cool brother walked in and told me to stop listening to that rubbish He asked me what I’d bought. I didn’t even know. I tried to explain and he laughed telling me I should have bought Seal, Kiss from a Rose (seriously, go and download it, you will not regret it). Oh yeah, I knew it had something to do with flowers. Shit. Shit. Shiiiiit.
I’d spent my pocket money. I couldn’t afford to get the correct single and there was no way I would risk going back in that shop. It had made me so anxious the first time and look how that ended up. I buried the cassette under a pile of clothes in my room. Since then, I’ve had real anxiety about buying music. I always worry I will get it wrong. Rational me knows there’s no such thing as getting it wrong, but that experience coupled with the anxiety I had felt, left a lasting impression.
And that’s not the only way that fateful anxiety-decision has haunted me. I was asked over and over again what my first single was throughout my teens and uni years. I cringed inside every single time. My answer: I can’t remember. But I got Green Day as my first album (always failing to mention it was Insomniac and not Dookie).
I have a real hatred for U2. I know it’s not their fault I panic bought their single. But if they had even been a little bit cool it would have helped. Instead I’d bought a single from a really devisive group (well devisive between generations. My generation’s verdict: self serving twats making shit music). When they invaded my iPhone a couple of years ago I was angry that they had tainted me with their uncoolness again. Leave me alone U2 before everyone realises I have zero street cred. And no idea about music.
God, it feels good to get that out.