See that brightly-smiling lady snuggled up to the singularly handsome bearded gentleman? This picture was taken at a Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Johnny Lang concert last summer.
It was held at a medium-sized, very crowded venue called the Hard Rock Rocksino. To get to the seating area she had to walk through acres of slot machines, noise and flashing lights. She’d never been there before, had no idea what to expect, but look at her–she’s absolutely glowing.
You’d never guess it, but for years that same lady was terrified of crowds and unfamiliar places. She developed a comforting routine built around well-known stores, arriving just as their doors opened and scurrying home long before the thundering herd (read: more than ten people) arrived. Anything outside this routine left her riddled with anxiety and totally drained of energy.
I know all this because I’m that lady.
The year leading up to that concert was insanely stressful, and I’d been clinging to my safe little burrow even more tenaciously than usual. My wonderful husband and I both tend to be homebodies, so there was no pressure to go out, do stuff, socialize. I might have stayed in my cozily decorated rut indefinitely if I hadn’t seen the ad online: “Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Jonny Lang. Hard Rock Rocksino. June 23.”
I knew my husband liked both of these performers a lot. The date was close to our anniversary, and tickets to the concert would be a terrific present. The price was reasonable, the drive wasn’t bad, and he’d be thrilled. Making Judd happy is one of my favorite things to do, so I jumped out of my chair and headed for the stairs to run it by him.
And then the voice of the Great God What-if weighed in, stopping me in my tracks.
What-if my nerves short-circuited and I got sick on the way to the venue? Or, even worse, what-if I got sick at the venue? What-if I passed out? (Note: this last thing has never happened to me in my entire life, but I tend not to consider such fine points when I’m in full-blown catastrophic mode.)
“Better not chance it”, warned the Great God What-if. “You don’t need more stress in your life right now. Stay in your comfort zone.”
“But Judd would really love to go to that concert,” I argued.
“Judd won’t even know about it if you don’t tell him. No harm done.”
“I would really love to go to that concert!”
“Now, Donna. What if you get all the way out there, have a panic attack and have to come all the way home again?”
That almost stopped me. I visualized the humiliating scenario and cringed. But then I straightened my shoulders, tossed back my hair and replied, “What-if I don’t?”
And the Great God What-if fell silent.
With that, I pounded up the stairs to tell Judd we were gonna go see Kenny Wayne and Jonny.