Anxiety comes in a lot of different forms. And each one can kiss my ass, by the way, because as a writer it’s very hard to try and come across as relatable while writing about being deathly afraid of talking to the guy at the deli counter. And it’s also not very relatable to then talk about how that same fear then accidentally made you become a vegetarian. It just makes the entire writing process difficult, really.
In my experience, everyone that has anxiety gets it for different reasons. Some people get anxious when interacting with people one-on-one, some people get anxious when in large groups, some people get anxious because they lost their hot best friend’s copy of Golden Sun and so they swapped it out with their own copy of the game and are dreading the day when he realizes that the main party members are all named after Buffy characters, calls you out on it, and then never hangs out with you ever again. And some people get anxious about the future. All equally valid.
My anxiety arch-nemesis happens to take on a unique form: Doors. Each one is like a puzzle that I have to work past before I can knock or turn the handle. Which, I think comes from my belief that I’m not allowed to let my existence be known, as well as the fear that I’m a burden on others. And, I guess, I see the door as the point of no return. Once I open that door, or knock on that door, or interact with that door in any way, I’ve actively chosen to bring that burden onto another person. And so, oftentimes I choose not to.
When I was younger I would stand pressed up carefully against the door of my room, listening, while barely breathing, to the voices on the other side. Were they in the next room? Were they far enough away where I could slip out without them knowing I was there? The answer I gave myself was usually no, even if I heard silence. So I’d stand there, sometimes for hours, with the door growing 20 feet taller every minute and my feet sinking into the quicksand of the carpet. I’d step in place, quietly but deliberately, like a dog waiting to be let out, pacing back and forth waiting for my moment. And that moment rarely ever came. I would go thirsty. I would go hungry. And I would be lonely.
I don’t expect that to make sense to a lot of people, or to be relatable. Because even writing it I’m like, “Wow, Ryan. That sure sounds fuckin’ stupid. Why don’t you just go get a glass of water, you weirdo?” And it is crazy, and I am a weirdo, and I will take that glass of water, thanks (no ice.) But that’s the point (not the ice thing.) It might not be relatable to most people. It might not be relatable to 7 billion people. But one person out there is gonna be like, “I am afraid to open doors too.” And that person? Is probably someone that got scarred watching that scene in Jumanji where the Aunt opens the bedroom door and the lion is in there. God, that movie really did do a number on me, huh?
Ryan C. Robert is the writer of multiple comedy blogs, most of which are satirical and self-deprecating. He writes about his life in his personal essay series "Before Color," parodies cooking blogs in "Trish's Dishes" and posts writing prompts every single day.