Hello! Grace here.
I hope you’re enjoying the weekend, whatever it looks like.
I’ve wanted to share this with you all week (because I think it’s important to) but haven’t known how to explain it until today…
On Monday I had an appointment in Manhattan (the first since March)… so Mark (bless him) drove me into the city after he finished work. This was the first time I’ve been into this particularly ‘nuts’ area of the city (34th street & 7th avenue) and outside in Manhattan for more than 30 seconds. Up until now it’s been jumping out of the car to pop directly into a shop to grab something. And rarely in Manhattan. We’ve created a little bubble in Brooklyn.
Anyway, he dropped me off a few blocks south so that I wouldn’t be late (with all the one way systems) and I walked the last 5 or 6 blocks uptown, past Madison Square Gardens, Penn station etc. No big deal! I was the one who suggested it.
Now, within seconds I was in the middle of the hustle & bustle of the city. Mask on, obviously. And I got the shock of my life! In an area where I used to THRIVE, I was suddenly terrified. And not because of COVID or the masks or anything like that! My hands clammed up, my breathing became erratic, my eyes must’ve been popping out of my head above my mask. Pure panic, out of what felt like nowhere! I was so distrusting of the strangers around me. Every homeless person seemed suddenly dangerous. Every nutter seemed more dangerous than before. Every rushing NY’er seemed more intense than ever. And every car whizzing by seemed to be going faster. It all just felt unsafe. I was shook. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get my bearings, or figure out which building my appointment was in… I couldn’t think straight.
So I eventually rushed into the appointment, came out, got back in the car and went home. But the whole evening I couldn’t stop thinking about this panic that I had felt in the middle of my favourite city in the world.
I’ll be real with you, I’m not really a panicky person. Not when it comes to New York City or strangers. Those two things?! I’m in my element normally! So, I felt very unhappy with how difficult that had felt. Because it’s not who I am.
I’m proud to say that I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to shy away from my new found fears.
So, on Tuesday afternoon I left my apartment with purpose (& my mask). I got on the subway for the first time since March, and was relieved to discover how NORMAL it was. Cleaner than I’ve ever seen it. And not a single person without a mask on. I immediately relaxed about something that had seemed like an absolute no-no for months.
I took that subway right back to where I’d had an almost-panic-attack the afternoon before. And I walked.
And I walked. And I walked. I popped into two of my old favourite stores and treated myself to a couple of goodies. I chatted to the staff in those stores that remembered me, and I remembered them, and we caught up and talked positively about how life has changed.
Mark even offered to come pick me up. I politely declined and walked some more… through union square, another ‘intense’ area of the city, before jumping back on the subway home. It was beautiful out.
And I tell you… by the time I walked through my apartment door back in Brooklyn, you’d think I’d have won a Nobel Peace Prize. I was very proud of myself.
You see, I’d realized that sitting in the safety of my home for 6+ months because of COVID had this adverse effect on me, that I had never imagined I (of all people!) would suffer from. I had built up this innate fear of PEOPLE. Strangers. The world I suppose. I was so distrusting. And that’s not who I am. I smile at strangers. I strike up conversation with the homeless. I’m about as trusting as they come, without being a fool. I’ve been that way since I was a little girl, and it’s certainly not going to change now.
But I realized that even I could be scared into thinking the world is a much worse place than it actually is. And when I forced myself to venture back into the world with purpose, I got to see what is REALLY there. The humanity. The strength. The resilience. The success. And you know what? It was fine. It was more than fine! It was amazing actually. And it gave me so much hope for the future.
It got me thinking about how quickly that fear became part of me. 6 months. How fast that inside switch was flicked. And people wonder why so many live in fear around the world? The elderly, people living in the middle of nowhere or the suburbs, or even people like us… who haven’t been out much in 6 months. It is SO easy to sit at home and watch the news, and let the internet feed you. And before you know it, your perception of the world or a particular place has changed. And it’s not real.
Monday was the result of all of that. And Tuesday was the result of pushing myself through it to find the ACTUAL REAL. And now? I can’t wait to have a reason to go into the city again. Zero fear.
Just thought I’d share this very personal story, in the hopes that it helps someone who perhaps is going through the same thing. Or is scared of moving forward from here.
Don’t let this change who you are.
(Disclaimer: A mask was worn the entire time, and plenty of hand sanitizer was used… and it was still fun! 😉 )
I’ve picked a handful of your cards shared online, that I thought fit into the theme of this blog perfectly…
Lotsa love, Grace xo
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