For as long as I can remember, my default setting has been one of anxiety — often severe and agoraphobic, wrapped in PTSD, and riddled with multiple panic attacks on the worst days. Being the product of a parent with mental illness, it's easy to lack a sense of safety and security with a life built on an unsteady foundation. I did not grow up with the confidence that the world was a safe place instead shuffling between extreme uncontrolled emotions, multiple divorces, and the quiet dread of instability. Trying to find a piece of solid ground to stand was as though you are trying to find your sea legs in a storm — a great challenge, but not impossible, and a journey filled with the siren call of all the neuroses where you've grown to find comfort, trying to lure you back in.
As I progressed into adulthood, my sense of self was disorganized. I was lacking confidence in my own strengths, instead incessantly questioning my place in the world. I could barely leave the house, chronically exhausted from the energy it took just to go to work. When I found photography and subsequently the understanding that I could trust in myself, I learned that my anxious tendencies were a necessary product of my upbringing that were no longer needed. That's when my life changed for the better. With practice, I'm learning to go with the flow and embrace life as it comes calmly, without so much hesitation — to take a breath in and let it go in the same way that each moment passes without judgement or projection.
Though still persistent even now decades later at 30, the anxiety has decreased in such a way that allows me to push myself through most of the tough days with the mechanisms I've learned to lessen the fearful reactions. My anxiety is like an old blanket you cling to for security, worn and tattered but still I am unable to let go of the comfort that once was so important. Living with the familiarity of your default setting, especially one that was needed to cope, it's hard to challenge your own perspective, but you too can take charge of your future instead of simply treading water.
Traveling for all it's perks, is stressful, exhausting, and for the anxious among us, can often be an impossible task to imagine. Here are a few tricks I've used to shed the burden of extra emotional weight from severe anxiety while traveling!