It’s normal to feel nervous about ordering from a drive-thru right? Practicing what you’re going to say over in your head is normal, right? Large coffee and a donut?
It’s normal to greet someone with a simple “hi” and then analyze how you said that one syllable word so wrong, right? And now that person probably thinks you’re a super weirdo because you said the word “hi” wrong? That’s super normal, right?
It’s normal to think the worst when people don’t reply within minutes to a question right? They’re your friends, but they probably hate you now because you bothered them with a question.
If you’ve never felt like this, congrats my friend, you are a superhero and I would love to know all your secrets for not freaking out when having to make a phone call to a stranger.
I’m not really sure when it first started happening, possibly in my awkward, horrible years in high school, or maybe it was before that. Most likely it started sometime around the same time I was in elementary school and too afraid to speak in front of my class so had a friend do it. Maybe it was earlier when I was too scared to call the pet store to see if they had turtles for sale and made my younger brother do it.
Whenever it started, it’s still definitely here and doesn’t seem to be planning on leaving anytime soon. I’m not sure I can call it full-blown anxiety, but I’m probably somewhere on the spectrum of sufferers.
I usually feel like I’m bothering people if I ask them a direct question, especially through email or text, or even Facebook message. Even with my close friends, or even with Dan, sometimes I just feel like everything I send is just annoying and bothersome.
The online memes usually spell this out pretty correctly.
Me: I should just ask Dan this quick thing
Brain: But what if it’s super annoying and he hates you for it
Me: But I should, he won’t mind
Brain: But what if he does?
Me: Oh, shit you’re right
Some days I can just shove that Brain argument aside and press the send button. Other days I’ll delete the whole message and look on Instagram instead.
Logically this makes no sense at all. None whatsoever. But I can never get the logical, rational side of me to work when my brain is slide showing all the things that could potentially go horribly wrong.
Like Dan might hate me because I sent a really stupid picture. Or might just find it horribly bothersome and annoying.
Logically I know he wouldn’t, irrationally my brain sends a spiral of horrible thoughts and ideas.
Even with close friends, it happens. If I haven’t heard from a friend in a while instead of logically thinking they must just be busy like I am, my Brain likes to feed me stories that they probably just hate me now.
Worse than no communication is brief communication. Like they feel bad for me so have to answer a few questions, but it’s really just a pity conversation. Or even worse than that is the dreaded “we need to talk.”
Never. Ever. Ever send the “we need to talk” to someone with any kind of anxiety. It will literally be the only thing they think about for the rest of the day.
Instead of being a normal logical human when posed with this question, my brain goes into hyperdrive mode and pumps out worst-case scenario after worst-case scenario.
“We need to talk”
Me: They probably just have a simple question
Brain: No no no, this is the worst possible thing someone in the history of the worst could ever send
Me: I’m sure it’s not that bad
Brain: They probably hate you so much and never want to talk to you again
Me: Or maybe they just want to ask about dinner
Brain: Or maybe they’re super angry because you didn’t park your car right
Me: But like probably not
Brain: But there’s so many things wrong you did today
Brain: So many things wrong, they’re going to be so angry
Me: Shit, you’re right
Never have I had someone yell at me for parking wrong or hate me so much they never wanted to talk to me again. I don’t even know where my brain gets these ideas, but when it latches on to something, no rational reasoning in the world can get it to stop.
I avoid going through the drive-thru like the plague. I would so much rather park and walk in, speak face to face (after practicing what I’m going to say of course) then speak through the microphone.
Maybe this has been a good thing as it does force me to get a little more walking in and I get to talk to people, however briefly it is.
But talking to too many people, my brain gets excited and whips back into hyperdrive.
I’ve had to give myself mental pep talks before going into a store before. Mental pep talks to go into a store I used to work in to give Dan a coffee while he’s working. Mental pep talks to go into a store to see my boyfriend and a bunch of other co-workers I know.
I have no idea. My brain likes to make up a lot of things though.
Me: Okay let’s go in, Dan’s there, I know people there, it’s not even that busy
Brain: But what if someone thinks you’re weird for bringing your boyfriend a coffee?
Me: Well that’s fine, I’m pretty weird anyway
Brain: But what if they think you’re like super weird?
Me: I mean…
Brain: Or what if you don’t know anyone and you’re just wandering around looking for Dan with a coffee like an idiot?
Me: But I know like everyone there
Brain: Or what if everyone you know is there and they all think it’s super weird that you’re bringing your boyfriend a coffee?
Me: They already think I’m super weird
Brain: But what if they laugh, what if Dan doesn’t want a coffee
Me: They wouldn’t, he would
Brain: But what if they don’t?
Me: Oh shit, right again
And so it goes until I can move without my brain thinking I’ll sit in the car. The best way I’ve found to get over this is just going before my brain has a chance to say anything. That we ’re both surprised when I get in the store and no one laughs, and Dan is happy to have coffee and no one thinks I’m weirder than they already do.
In a sense, I’m probably lucky to not be totally crippled by anxiety or have panic attacks and can maintain a somewhat normal life. I know there are people who have it a lot worse than I do, there are also people who have it a lot better than I do.
But just knowing that no one is normal and we all go through some stages of these problems is comforting. Knowing that we’re not alone and that yes it is normal to practice my coffee order before skipping the drive-thru and parking and walking into the store.