I’m a big believer in the fact that you can only get over your fears by facing them.
One of my particular issues is crowds. I can’t stand them. Too many people in a bar will make me leave, a crowded room will have me in palpitations, and suffering from shortness of breath. Sometimes even walking round a busy town can have me so scared that I have a major panic attack.
The worst of these was a few years ago on my birthday. The boyfriend had arranged for us to travel by train for the day to Cardiff, as the city was special to us because it was the place we had spent our first full night together, many moons ago. What both he and I had failed to do however, and as a result now do religiously, was to check what was going on.
We should have realised on the train that morning. Once we had managed to squeeze ourselves through the door and find a spot just big enough for the two of us to fit into, what we found was that the rest of the sardines in the tin can with us were all wearing either the rugby strips of Wales, or those of Cardiff Blues.
There must be a match on we thought to ourselves, “not to worry”, the boyfriend said as I concentrated on my breathing for the whole of the hour long train journey, “it will soon pass once they get into town, they’ll be off to the ground.”
As it turned out however he couldn’t have been more wrong.
As we left the train station the crowds were far too large to just be for a standard rugby or football match, and by the time I’d been herded through the tunnels out into the city streets, I was well on my way to a major panic attack. Already thinking about just turning straight round and going home, the boyfriend encouraged me to ‘face it head on’, and carry on. So I tried, and I managed half a mile, before the simple act of missing crossing the road at the same time as the boyfriend left me on the verge of tears and clinging to a lamppost as if my life depended on it.
I was terrified.
It took one kindly woman checking if I was ok, a boyfriend back to the rescue, and a bizarrely quiet pub less than fifty feet from where I stood to help me reach some semblance of normalcy again. It was then that we discovered the size of our faux pas in failing to check what was going on, and what was to inevitably give me one of the biggest challenges of my life in just getting through the day. You see, there were a few things going on in Cardiff that day, not least of which were….
A protest march by the Welsh & English Defence League
A counter protest march by United against Fascism
Wales hosting the Springbok’s, in a rugby match at the Millennium Stadium
and as if that wasn’t enough,
the Stereophonics live in concert at the Cardiff City Stadium
but, fear crippled yet determined, I made it through the day.
Since then I have tried to be proactive in facing my fears. An impromptu trip to London with the boyfriend to meet friends, on a Bank Holiday Monday in May, had me walking hand in hand with both the boyfriend and my best mate (also male) in order to keep me calm. It got me looked at a fair old bit but, hey it’s London, that’s the norm right?
I faced the crowds that were at London Super Comic Convention 2012. Crowds that were especially large, not just because it was the inaugural convention, but also because it was being supported, and attended by Stan Lee, and was to be the first time he had been in the UK since 1973. There was no, way I was going to miss out on a chance of seeing him!
(yes, that’s a real photo by the way, not just photoshop)
I’m also tackling my fears in the classroom, with courses in personal impact and confidence, and with hypnotherapy too. I’m doing pretty much anything I can find to help me to get to the point where I can do this. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my problems, admitting them, facing them, working on all aspects of me, and my fears. I am trying to be better, but until now I’ve always had a crutch. I’ve always had a friend, family member or the boyfriend holding my hand to help me deal with my problems.
Tomorrow I take the next step.
Tomorrow I am in a meeting in London for work.
Tomorrow in order to get there, I am catching the packed commuter train to London.
On my own.
Tomorrow I have to navigate rush hour on the tube to get across London.
On my own.
Tomorrow I have to walk into a room filled with industry bods that I have never met before, and be pointed out to everyone because of who and what I represent.
That bit I am doing thankfully with the help of two people I do know, but the rest? That’s all down to me.
Think of me tomorrow.
I will be scared, I know it, but it’s just another hurdle. Isn’t it?