Today I’m going to talk about why I haven’t been posting anything recently, why I’ve been so stressed out, and why I hate making large life decisions. It’s a simple word – we’ve all heard it and used it in less extreme cases and really it’s something so simple and psychological I sometimes want to just smack myself for letting it stop me. Did you guess yet? It’s anxiety.
Anxiety is one of those things that no one ever wants to talk about (which is ironic that I’m talking about it on my entrance back to the blogging stage). According to Merriam-Webster, anxiety is “an uneasy state of mind”. In plain English, it’s the thing that makes you want to stay in at night instead of hanging out with friends, or it’s the thing that makes your mind run at a thousand miles an hour, or it’s the thing telling you your blog posts are crap and you should find a new hobby (cough). Anxiety is really quite annoying.
But you know what? My blog posts aren’t crap (or maybe they are) and I want to keep sharing them with the world regardless. Who gives a shit if they’re not as prime as some of the bloggers I look up to? They’re still mine to share and mine to love and nothing else matters. Anxiety be darned.
As much as I joke about anxiety though, it’s a real, confining thing. Recently, a friend and I have been making plans to go camping in Yosemite over the summer. When we were discussing our schedule for the few days, she mentioned she wanted to hike Half Dome and told me I should start training and arm conditioning now. My brain went, ‘Training? Arms? Aren’t we just hiking?’ After some quick Googling though, I learned that Half Dome is one of the most iconic and difficult hikes in Yosemite. And why train your arms? Well because the last 400 ft of the hike involves you pulling yourself up by some cables attached to a rock, requiring a fair bit of arm strength.
My first reaction to this idea was “Wow! This sounds awesome! I’m gonna do it!”, quickly followed by, “Shit, that looks terrifying.” A bit more Internet research and hiker testimonials has now put me right around “Okay, it’s manageable but it’s really hard but OMG what am I doing I’m going to die.” And thus I’ve hit my wall. Because I am so convinced that with some regular training I can conquer this hike, and with a bit of fear-of-heights-swallowing at the end, I believe I could even finish the cables section and get to the very top, I am so determined to do this hike. But this also doesn’t stop me from having a panic attack about every other day about it. What if I slip and fall? What if I get a muscle cramp? What if I let my friend down? Whatifwhatifwhatif?
That’s the root of anxiety – the questions that buzz through your head at a million miles per second, making you want to call your friend and tell her you can’t do it, even if you know you can. It’s a life-freezing thing that stops you in your step, freaks you out, and makes you want to hermit away from the world until it’s too late to accomplish the things you missed out on. It’s debilitating, it’s annoying, and it’s heart-breaking.
One of the hardest things about this whole anxiety-blocking-my-hiking-dreams thing is that I absolutely love hiking. I’ve only really gotten into the activity in the last year but it has swept me up in its path. Just this past weekend I hiked Escondido Falls and, while most of our group stopped at the bottom of the falls, I dare-devilishly ventured to the top of the falls with a few other girls to witness a grander waterfall and feel more accomplished than before. I’m constantly looking for new iconic hikes to expand my hiking repertoire. Between the exercise and the return to nature, hiking has become the perfect activity for me. And then anxiety has to get in the way of all that.