If you’ve been keeping up with my blog for a while, you would know that I met my number one hero, indie-folk singer, song-writer John Paul White, this past November.
This past weekend, I met another one of my heroes — but I almost let my mental illness talk me out of the opportunity of a lifetime.
I sprawled out onto my bed after a hectic morning of errands, followed by a work out, and checked my watch.
Really? My level of exhaustion made it seem as though it would be appropriate for the sun to be setting, but my watch was correct.
In order to make it to the event on time at 6 p.m., I had to shower (20 minutes), blow dry and style my hair (90 minutes – I know, I’m not a fan either), apply some makeup (15 minutes), and leave the house with enough time to get there, factoring in some added time due to the inevitability of traffic around the O’Hare airport area (50 minutes).
I had roughly 5 hours, that’s 300 minutes for those of you who also hate conversions, to complete 175 minutes of activity. That’s essentially double the amount of time I needed.
I laid unmoved from my bed, my mind running in circles.
This event was a free POP Pilates session and meet and greet with one of my biggest inspirations, Cassey Ho. I’ve admired her since the early stages of her YouTube channel, Blogilates. This would be her first time visiting Chicago, perhaps even my only chance to meet her. I had been excited for this day for a whole month.
But then I thought about how I wasn’t the only one who would want to meet her.
Previous meet ups of this kind yielded immense volumes of fans — I’ve seen so on Cassey’s Instagram posts. How many people would be there? Any number higher than five would breed potential for an anxiety attack.
And I knew there would be more than five.
My thoughts became extremely paralyzing.
What kind of loser goes to events alone? I mean, sure. I see people go to the movies or to a restaurant alone all the time, and I don’t think any less of them. I understand that just because they are alone now that doesn’t mean they don’t have friends.But what if all of the other attendees think I don’t have any friends?
What if they don’t understand? I told myself they wouldn’t understand, that they would judge me.
I hopped in and out of the shower, then began styling my hair. I went through the motions, forcing myself to get ready with great reluctance. It’ll be fun, I thought to myself.
But my enthusiasm felt fake. It was fake. The brain of an openly-emotional person doesn’t respond well to fake emotions.
I started to worry that I had wasted too much time brooding in bed and that even if I had decided to go, I would be late. I felt my stomach twinge at the thought of walking into the room while everyone was in the middle of the workout session.
They would be on their yoga mats, smiling and sweating, moving in fluid unison to the beat of a catchy pop tune.
And then I would open the door and the music would cut abruptly. Everyone would turn to look at me: disgusted and thrown off-kilter — signified by the contorted, sour look on their faces.
They wouldn’t understand. They would judge me, hate me.
Despite all of this vindictive negativity my mind poisoned me to believe, I persisted. I made my way to the event, reminding myself that I am not my mental illnesses.
Literally NONE of the hypothetical scenarios in my head happened.
I arrived on time. Others had showed up alone. Everyone was kind. I high-fived, hugged, and connected with strangers. We took a group picture. I met Cassey and she was lovely.
I held on to a bit of anxiety throughout the entire night, as per usual, but I went.
And I had an unforgettable time.
Speaking from previous experience, I would have fallen into a massive depressive-low if I had allowed my social anxiety to keep me prisoner to my bed.
You are enough. Your singular presence is enough.