Hello, my name is Tilly and I’m an anxious traveller. Scratch that. I’m an anxious person who loves to travel. Now anxiety and travelling aren’t two things that often go well together, of this I am very aware. But perhaps thanks to some slightly masochistic tendencies, travelling with anxiety has become a lifestyle choice for me.
I’ve been well aware of my issues with anxiety since my teen years (cue uncontrollable bodily functions before any social function and a good possibility of crippling cramps afterwards) and I’d like to think I’ve come a long way (nervous peeing is now down to a minimum). But my latest adventure of travelling with anxiety has thrown a curveball at me that I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting.
I’m not new to this whole travelling with anxiety thing. A childhood spent traipsing from one end of Europe to the other every 18 months or so taught me some valuable lessons in being the ‘new kid.’ Me and my siblings lost count of how many nerve wracking first days at school we had but I’m willing to bet none of us would change our childhoods however unusual they were.
Then, last year, I decided to move to a city in France on the recommendation of two French friends. So I booked a ticket to Lyon. They didn’t live there, in fact nobody I knew lived there. I’d managed to bag myself a part-time job as an English speaking-babysitter and convinced myself it was a great opportunity to improve my A-level French. It was a glorious, anxiety-riddled nightmare. But I did it. Granted, I found myself very nearly homeless after two weeks, struggled to communicate with my new housemates and took almost three months to find a decent job. But I did it. If it sounds like I’m bragging, I am. It was the single hardest thing I’ve done. I learned French (ish), I made friends, I experienced one of the most beautiful cities I think I will ever have the pleasure to live in. And I crushed my anxiety! Hell to the yes.
Fast forward a year and it seems I’m not satisfied with the self-inflicted torture thus far and I decide to up sticks again. Instead of neighbourly France, my new destination is 11 hours across the Atlantic in Mexico. I tell myself and everyone I know that I have a good reason for this madness: a lovely Mexican awaits. Somehow this only makes them think I’m even more crazy…and I’m not sure I’d disagree with them. Except look how pretty the beaches are…
This is where the curveball comes in. See, I’d already spent a year combatting my daily anxiety. I’d already had to learn a language and find somewhere to live and make new friends and find work and try not to cry in front of a bank clerk who wouldn’t let me open a bank account. So the second time around would be a breeeeeze. Right? Please join me in throwing your hands up to the heavens, pulling a tortured face and wailing the word wrrrooooooonnnnggggggg!
It seems that no matter how long or far I travel or just, you know, exist – anxiety is going to be a daily struggle.
Does this mean I’m going to stop? No.
Does this mean that I’m writing this blog in the hopes it may appeal to/help a fellow traveller-cum-raging-agoraphobic? Yes.
So without further ado, welcome to my AA meetings: now repeat after me… “my name’s…….and I’m an anxious traveller.”