Sometime around 36 hours before my trip began, anxiety hit. Before then, when people asked if I was nervous about going to Athens, I could genuinely chuckle and say, “Nah. I’ve been there before. I know what I’m doing. It’s going to be intense but fun!” I don’t know what changed, but 36 hours ago, all my unacknowledged anxiety came rushing into consciousness.
This is it. This is the beginning of the next step in my life. I’m going to visit the city that will soon be my home. I’m going to hang out with the people who will soon be my coworkers and (hopefully) friends. What if I hate the city? What if everyone I meet hates me? What if I’ve made a terrible decision, but I can’t take it back because then I’d look ridiculous? What if I do back out but it’s a choice made out of fear and I miss out on an amazing opportunity? What if everything goes wrong and I trip on my face five times and no one speaks English and I sit alone in a corner the whole time?
Clearly action needed to be taken. Here are some tips (I may or may not have done) to cope with anxiety while in an airport:
1. Check the location of your boarding pass twenty times. Still in your purse pocket. Awesome.
2. Stroll along the speed walkways as though you are powering through life. Realize this means you are speeding toward your anxiety-ridden future. Turn around and sprint against the current as though this will slow time.
3. Pull up a picture of your cat on your phone and imagine you are screaming into his soft belly.
4. Buy coffee. And a scone. And trail mix. Feel bad for eating your feelings.
5. Stare at your wrist tattoo that says, “Courage, dear heart” and think about what a genius you are for engraving such a useful message onto your skin. Wonder why reading it does not make you brave for longer than twenty seconds.
6. Watch Netflix on your phone. Read a magazine. Start a new book. Play Candy Crush. Anything to distract your brain from jumping on the anxiety train.
7. Claim a bathroom stall as your private kingdom and sit with your face in your hands for as long as necessary. Don’t scream, though. That would be weird.
8. Reread the text from your mom that quotes 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Feel encouraged, but then stamp that good feeling down. Some weird part of you is not ready to stop being anxious.
9. Walk as far away from your gate as you can until the anxiety of missing your flight supplants the anxiety of your future. Rush back to your gate to reassure yourself that boarding is still half an hour away. Repeat in the opposite direction.
10. Console yourself that there is every possibility that your plane will crash and you will die before having to make any major life changes. Worry that this makes you disturbingly morbid. Console yourself that your plane might crash and you will die before having to deal with this dark part of your psyche.
Those are my ten maybe-useful coping strategies while mentally freaking out in an airport. What do you do to cope with stress? Leave a comment and let me know!