Change is something that I find incredibly daunting, and is often the root of anxiety for me. I find myself feeling very safe in normality and routines, and so big changes are often something that I struggle with a little. Something that I have noticed, however, is the importance of celebrating positive change. An example of positive change is noticing yourself coping in situations and scenarios in which you would have felt anxious or panicked about in the past. A huge example of this for me is large crowds. I don’t always feel anxious in large crowds, but even so, large spaces crammed full of people aren’t exactly my ideal situation. I’d like to give some of the blame to the fact that I am 5 foot 1, and therefore feel even more boxed into large crowds, however I predominantly want to talk about a time when I noticed my coping abilities and comfort zone had stretched, so I’ll keep the annoyance at my height to a minimum. (Just once I’d like to be able to see over the person in front of me at concerts. Just once!)
The summer I was 15, my friends and I went to a convention in London, and we were ridiculously excited about it. It was only a weekend event, but we had planned for months beforehand even so. It was the first time I’d gone to anything like it, and so I was a mix of pure excitement and anxiousness. There were going to be a lot of people there, and it was going to be boiling hot. The fact I was with my friends really helped, as I knew that I wasn’t on my own and that they had my back, but even so, I was nervous about it. The venue was absolutely full of people, and the organisation wasn’t the best, so no one really knew what was going on: cue hundreds of people all queuing for things they didn’t know they were even queuing for. Already, it was quite overwhelming. We queued like sardines for a mystery meet and greet for a couple of hours before being turned away (like I said, no one really knew what was going on), and I was getting ever so slightly overwhelmed. There were too many people, and I couldn’t focus on much other than the sheer size of the crowds and how frustrated so many people were about it. We eventually found our other friends, and I hung around with them for a bit, but I was really feeling the anxiousness by that point. As fun as the general knowledge that we were there was, that first day was a bit of a write off. The second day was a lot better, and whilst I didn’t come home having had the best experience of my life, I was just happy that the anxiousness from the first day wasn’t quite as prominent the second day.
Fast forward to two years later, 2016, when me and my friend got tickets to see Panic! at the Disco at the same venue as the convention had been. I was initially anxious about the fact that I hadn’t exactly had the best experience at that venue previously, but I eventually got through it and focused on my excitement at seeing a band I love live. When we got there, I was a bundle of nerves, scared I would panic the minute I got into the huge crowd. I knew it would be a much different experience, as this was a concert rather than a convention, and I knew that the crowd would be much more squashed together and claustrophobic than before. However, I was absolutely fine. It was one of the most fun nights of my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was a little bit anxious when we got into the venue, but the minute the support act started playing, it was like one big communal happy place for everyone at the concert. I immediately forgot about my worries about the crowd and just had fun enjoying seeing the band live. I felt proud of myself, as odd as that may sound, that I had been able to cope with and thoroughly enjoy something that had made me so anxious a couple of years before.
Recognising positive change is acknowledging when we have grown our comfort zones, and grown in ourselves, and being proud of how strong we can be. I still struggle with a myriad of other things, but I can look at this change that I have made in my life and in myself, and I can be proud of it. It’s important to recognise and celebrate our successes, no matter how small they may seem. I know that being able to fully enjoy a concert doesn’t sound like the biggest success in life, but it’s important to me, and that’s what matters.