Yesterday I told you about buying some new papers. Today, I will tell you about it again, but this time, about the actual experience of buying them.
Whenever I have to go to the art supplies-store, I need to go into a huge shopping centre. This is something I avoid doing as much as possible. Because to me, it feels like this:
My social anxiety is not too severe in most cases. I’ll happily get involved in a conversation with a stranger, and I like sitting in public spaces watching people passing by. But sometimes, the anxiety really kicks in, and a shopping centre or the subway during rush hour is two good examples of places where I just can’t keep myself together.
But you know, sometimes I need to be somewhere that requires me to step on a crowded bus, and sometimes I need to get new papers. Just the thought of it raises my pulse bit.
It starts even before I get into the shopping centre. With this awful entrance that’s a big spinning wheel, forcing me to get squeezed together with a bunch of people, trying to move forward, while everyone around is just pushing. I myself am not the type to elbow my way forward, and it has happened more than once that I needed to go around the wheel twice because I didn’t manage to push myself out the first time around.(or had to go back a stop with the train because I wasn’t hard enough to get myself off where I was supposed to)
Well inside I’m met by what seems like a wall of people. I have no idea how to get through it all within the fifteen minutes it takes me to completely lose my s**t. I have done this many times, so I know how long I can take it before I need to be on the outside again.
At this point, my heart is beating pretty fast, and I’m doing my best to move slowly and keep telling myself that it’s not so bad this time.I am amazed by the fact that no one else seems to be bothered by this crowd. My breathing is starting to get heavier, the throat is sort of clogging up, I feel a need to start running, and I’m not even in the store yet. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to be navigating effortlessly through this mess. They just walk on, while I’m dancing around in the same spot, trying to avoid getting bumped into.
It’s this pushing thing again. I take pride in being very polite, and I’m good at getting out of people’s way. I always walk on the right side of the stairs or the sidewalk to let people in a bigger hurry than me pass by. I guess it’s because I’m Swedish, and absolutely superior when it comes to standing in line and waiting for my turn. It’s just that when I’m the only one who does that, it gets very hard for me to get anywhere.
Finally in the store, and it’s almost completely empty compared to the rest of the building. So I spend some time in there catching my breath. Looking at things I’d like to buy but never would, trying out some pens, comparing prices on the new sortiment of watercolors. Still with high pulse, I jump at the voice of the store employee asking if she can help me with anything and I nervously answer something awkward about paper prices. Of course she’s the same person serving me at the checkout, which by the way is very close to the door, and watching the sea of people out there makes my heart race again. I’m hoping the employee doesn’t notice my heavy breathing and my eyes looking at exactly everything except for her. Of course she notices and she asks me if I’m in a hurry. Oh, gosh how embarrassing. “YES! very little time!” what an idiot I am… Of course something is wrong with my card and I’m starting to wonder if I’ll get out alive. I say never mind that, pay with cash, and look at the time. Fourteen minutes have passed, and I start running towards the entrance. Well, rather dancing around this crowd towards the entrance.. Entering the spinning wheel I tense my stomach in a last effort of not starting to cry in public.
And I’m out!
And I didn’t start crying!
And I have this awesome pen and a hundred papers so I won’t have to get back in here for weeks!
I sit down on a bench for a cigarette before I go to the bus that’s going to take me home. How lucky for me I live out in the country, so the bus is almost empty.