Thursday, November 29

I am afraid.

[Polaroid SLR680SE + PX680 Beta]

I am afraid. And it is not the most comfortable place to be. Which is why I am posting this photo. I took it awhile ago and I really like the way it turned out, but I feel vaguely uncomfortable about posting it. Yes, I realize that I take and post a lot of self-portraits, and yes, it is just my back, but I am a bit of a prude and so I am rather self-conscious about posting it. So I've been sitting on it for awhile, but this morning on my run, I was thinking about being afraid and it made me think of this photo.

(For the record, I took this shot because I wanted to see how long my hair is. I believe that it is the longest it has ever been in my life. Is that vain? I don't know.)

But what this post is really about is being afraid about our upcoming trip to New York City. It's something that I'd rather not focus on. That I'd like to push aside and focus on all the positives. It's something that annoys me, this travel anxiety that I get, and sometimes it embarrasses me as well. What I want to tell you is that I am totally excited about the trip, that I can't wait to be in the Big City again. To visit the Impossible Project. To see friends that we haven't seen in forever. To eat a freaking real bagel.

And I am excited about those things, but bigger than that right now is the fact that I am afraid.

This is something about myself that makes me angry. That makes me wish I was, I don't know, more like other people who aren't afraid. This fear is just a feeling though and it doesn't define who I am, but it is a part of who I am. And it's not going to go away if I ignore it. If only it were that simple.

It doesn't help that this whole month has been one stress after another. That we got sick. That we postponed our trip. That now I've had loads of time to work up a lot of anxiety. To get way too close to that edge, a place that I do not like to be. And it took me awhile to see through it all. I thought my stress was this or that and the obsessive thinking was making me about lose my mind. And then I realized that all of it was coming from a place of fear about the day we leave. The day I wake up and we drive to the airport and we wait to get on the plane.

And with that realization, I felt some relief. While I don't necessarily want to have these fears, acknowledging them for what they are made them seem smaller. It was like, "oh, right, I am afraid and I have been trying to pass it off with other shit. I am not actually just losing my mind for no apparent reason."

Because it is okay to be afraid. It kind of sucks, but it's okay. One thing I've learned in the last few years is that I have to acknowledge my feelings even if they are feelings that make me uncomfortable; because if I ignore them, they are not going to go away and they might even get stronger.

I am not afraid of the actual flying part. I am not afraid that we are going to crash. It's all the various things surrounding the getting in the air part that bring my anxiety. Too many unknowns, I guess. And since it's been awhile since I've flown, I figure that it's all an unknown. I have visualized it being a totally okay time. Waking up and finding that I am not overly panicked. Not getting twitchy and totally freaked out in my head while we wait to take off. Who's to say that it won't be a total breeze? 

But. Because I struggle with travel anxiety, I can't ignore the possibility that it might be a tough morning. That I might be panicky. That I might get an upset stomach which will make me even more panicky. That I might cry a little and tell Will that I can't do it. These are things that could happen. And so then, I will be kind to myself. My husband will hug me. I will take something for my stomach. I will take something for my head. And we will drive to Albuquerque and I will get on the airplane and I will focus on reading or playing solitaire and then we will be in the air and I will be okay.

I can't say what will happen. Maybe I will surprise myself. 

What I do know is that whatever happens that day, I will somehow be able to get through it. Because I know that if I do not make this trip because I am afraid, I might not forgive myself. I might stay angry at myself for a long time. And I think that would be a lot worse than dealing with getting on the airplane.

My hope is that this trip is going to blow my mind in the best possible way. That I am going to surprise myself a little bit. That the travel part might even be a little exciting. I mean, hell, the whole reason we're even going on this trip is because two of my photos are in an exhibit at the Impossible Project. A dream come true. I've never had any of my photos in an exhibit. Much less in New York City. Much less at the Impossible Project space. In the company of so many amazing photographers. That shit blows my mind right there.

So yeah, I am afraid. But it's okay.


  1. I'm right there with you. I'm lucky that my wife understands this about me and she helps mitigate the "things" that I hate about traveling, about doing new stuff and meeting new people.

    I've been told I'm the most introverted extrovert they've ever met.

    Having my wife help me...and, well, push me a little has helped me do it myself even more.

    Accepting that it's going to be a certain way, but digesting that and still doing it is a big step, and every time it's scary, but I'm always glad I've done it.

    Godspeed to NYC, and I can't wait to see the pictures from your trip!!

    Oh, and about the image. I love it. I think you've composed it perfectly, tastefully, and elegantly. And the fogging on the bottom of the frame actually help make it even more elegant. Nice work!

    1. Hmm, I don't know why it's posting as "Anonymous", but it's me, patrick j. clarke!!! :)

  2. oh juli, this photo and post is simply beautiful beyond words. i'm so excited for you and your trip. everything will be just fine. xo

  3. This photo is incredibly beautiful Juli, so soft, feminine and, oddly enough, calming.

    It isn't fun to be afraid, I know. Me and my husband both suffer from anxiety (mostly that of large crowds, which one often finds at airports...) and so I know how hard it is somedays to push through it. Also, in the last 10 or so years flying and airport stuff (security, checking your bags, etc.) has gotten a lot scarier. There are signs everywhere telling you what not to do, where not to stand, how to check your bags, how NOT to check your bags... There seems to be so many rules and so many pitfalls that you can trip up on if you don't travel all the time. Once I wore socks that had some glittery metal stitching in them and holy cow did that ever set of the metal detectors!

    When I travel, I try to give myself lots of time, because the more time I have the less afraid I am about missing a plane and then I can handle any other unexpected circumstances with more composure.

    *hugs* I hope you have a fantastic trip!

  4. beautiful photo and beautiful writing about fear.
    I don't chant hare krishna very regularly anymore, but I always do when I am on an airplane waiting to take off. keeps the brain busy.
    you have so much to look forward to and I believe you are going to do great!
    love you xoxo


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