My Hidden Shadow, Anxiety at the Transition

Written August 31, 2013

I’m finally here in Toronto. Settling in is a process, but it’s moving along. I’ll be posting about all the exciting sights, explorations, and new friends soon. For now, I do want to dedicate one post to something I usually like to hide: my pre-departure anxiety.

I’ve struggled with it for years and through my four years at Rice, I became an expert at managing it and hiding it from my friends. When it comes to big transitions though, these tools no longer could cover everything and in the safety of my parents’ house this summer, it came out and raged like a monster as I prepared for my move to Toronto.

Don’t get me wrong: I was ready to move to Toronto. As my dad joked one morning as he moved me in, “If you stay in Austin, you have to keep working at Target”—and since retail sucks the life out of my introverted soul and doesn’t allow me to learn and grow, I agreed that I had to move on. But because of my penchant to worry and over-plan, to try and anticipate every twist and turn, I felt paralyzed by fear every time I tried to take a step forward.

I was able to arrange all the paperwork, the banking (such a pain going across an international border . . .), and pack up all my belongings, but in spite of the calm exterior I put on the outside, each of these steps felt longer, darker, and looming than they should have. There were moments of clarity where I could see that an important phone call would only take about ten minutes, that packing really only needed to take an afternoon, and that even though everyone in my life meant well, I didn’t have to take the “Did you know Toronto is cold?” and “Make sure you buy your winter coat before you go” suggestions so seriously—by the way, they aren’t selling winter coats in Texas or Toronto right now and the weather is humid and hot right now on the Toronto streets—but most of the time it felt like I was trapped in a bureaucratic maze much like K’s in The Trial and that I would never truly understand these new systems of Toronto banking, transit, and graduate school.

Eventually I found ways to make the moments of clarity last longer. I imagined how to phrase each misstep and mistake as a funny story on this blog. Something to laugh along with instead of punishing myself. It helped to watch copious amounts of How I Met Your Mother with all the digs at Canada that I silently kept track of for later. I also pictured all the other 2013 graduates of Rice and my other “grown-up” friends and their journeys. I realized that except for the rare post on Facebook, most of us don’t show this side of post-grad life. We talked about it before we split ways, we think about it silently, but we don’t present it to the world. Instead, we try to project limitless confidence. I for one want to break that silence and talk about the fears for the future, not to harp and focus on them, but in order to create a support network, to remind all of us that we are not alone in taking these steps into adulthood and true independence.

I will never get rid of my anxiety. Moving houses, cities, states, or countries away will give me extra stress that will never go away. Starting a new job or schooling program will do the same. And because I’m a perfectionist and more inclined toward anxiety, these transitions will always be a little rougher for me. There’s no denying it; it’s at the roots of my personality. What I can do is make sure the people around me understand as much as possible so they are not alienated by my emotions. Besides, the same anxiety that makes me a nervous wreck at times also makes my empathetic to the worries and emotions of those around me. And being so in tune with those emotions will help me write more compelling scripts.

Extra thanks: Even though it made it harder to leave, I am extremely grateful to have supporting parents, a few friends, and lots of great co-workers from the Bee Cave Public Library back in Austin. Whether you knew it or not, you all made me feel special, confident, and supported in taking this great leap.


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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2 Responses to My Hidden Shadow, Anxiety at the Transition

  1. Nancy says:

    Very brave! I applaud your courage in sharing such intimate emotions.

  2. Pingback: When I Don’t Need Advice from the Internet | gladlybeyondaustinausten

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