In the coming week, both Canada and the United States will celebrate their respective birthdays. And you know what that means. FIREWORKS!!!! (And that I’m 5 years old, apparently). It also means that Canadians and Americans alike will be hitting the highways and airways en masse, eager to get the eff outta dodge and enjoy a nice long weekend, anywhere but here.
In a few short hours, I will be joining the mass exodus, headed for the beautiful province of Nova Scotia to spend 12 glorious days with my family and friends. You’d think I’d be excited about this- given how
annoyingly incredibly homesick I’ve been lately. And I am. It’s just that I’ve also spent the past few days feeling a little… well, anxious.
I can’t really explain it, but whenever I am preparing to travel anywhere, I spend the days leading up to my departure in a state of mild, generalized anxiety. I’m emotional. I’m high strung. I stress about everything- no matter how small.
First, there’s the thought of leaving work for a week. Tying up all sorts of loose ends; satisfying myself that the machine will continue to run in my absence, despite my essential cogging role. Packing is a headache in and of itself. Paring down the number of impractical dresses and shoes I bring. Worrying about my toiletries exploding all over the place, or that some rogue, could-be-construed-as-a-weapon item has made its way into my carry-on.
But beyond this, I have this habit of adding to my own stress by creating arbitrary to-do lists of all the items I simply must complete before leaving, that really I don’t need to do at all.
Like, obviously I had to clean my entire apartment from top to bottom and organize my closet before I left. And I just I NEEDED to pick up Bumble and Bumble Beach Waves spray, get my nails done, and buy presents for everyone whose birthdays I missed in the past 6 months or all hell would break loose. For the past few days, I have found myself either frantically running around completing these highly important tasks, or sitting at my desk freaking out about when I was going to find the time to do it all.
When I realized I had worked myself up into a state of borderline hysteria, I tried to pinpoint the root of my anxiety. I’m not jetting off to a foreign or unfamiliar destination. I don’t need a tetanus shot. I don’t have to calculate currency conversions at the speed of light, or struggle to understand a foreign language. In fact, I’m going to the most familiar place I know- a place where I’ve spent the majority of my life and all of my family lives. My mom is even picking me from the god damn airport. So what gives?
Curious to see if others might share my pain, I took to google and discovered that apparently what I’m feeling is called “Pre-Travel Anxiety”. How original. Turns out lots of people deal with it. (Well, ok.. mostly animals. But sometimes people too).
I even read one article where a woman nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to return vitamins she bought online prior to a 5-week Greek vacation.
What’s wrong with us all??
I think it all boils down to the fact that we humans are creatures of habit, and thrive off routine. Any type of change, or any time we are out of our comfort zone has the potential to cause anxiety and throw us into a tailspin- regardless of if the change is positive.
So how do we deal with it? Well, the websites I read recommended everything from packing ahead and having a travel “game plan”, to doing yoga and avoiding stimulants. Yeah, I think I’ll just help myself to a nice individual serving of boxed wine on the plane and call it a day.
They say this kind of thing only gets worse with age. Which means that inevitably, my future children are going to hate me. More than they already will for being a super-competitive stage mom and enrolling them in the Abby Lee Miller Dance Company. Hey.. mommy needs a little spotlight, too.