A holiday is that little bit of what I like to call unreality or pinch-me-I’m-dreaming syndrome. Perhaps, because my anxious little busy body does not go on holiday very often. In definition out of the country much.
You’re supposed to get excited about holidays, right? That is the normal thing to feel. You know that normal wash of jittery happiness. Where others would be drawing up a list of fun outings my brain would be soaking in a film of all the things that would go wrong. I felt truly terrified of being the only family member that did French GCSE. Which meant that I would be speaking. A weight was on my shoulders. All those French words had ebbed out my head the past few years and my social anxiety scared the living day lights out of me. This sense of doom steamed towards me.
But, I squashed my stuff in my half of the suitcase. Checked my bag far to many times that I couldn’t even recite and in the grey wash of the day felt a storm on the horizon not a beautiful sunset.
I headed for Paris.
Check in emotional baggage
I had arrived. Flown as the captain specifically needed to voice 5 miles or whatever in the air. Still filled with nerves from when my brain made me think I was going to choke on the sweet I barricaded between my teeth and lips.
Paris by now inked in darkness. All sights and sounds muted. I walked along the glass corridor into the Parisian airport, suitcase trailed. Slapped by the realization of another world and of a different language existing. Apparent in the signage and dotted French words and a not so distant cafe named Brioche or something or other which displayed baguettes and golden pastries. French accents and sentences stirred the new air.
I was a time traveler. I had entered into the future by only one hour, but still I was this anxious person I didn’t want to be.
You are in the big world now
We met our Taxi driver. It was like a film scene or a classic film character. The French driver stood holding his tablet with my family’s name, wearing a flat cap. It was a weird feeling. Surreal. And as he drove us to the hotel I couldn’t help but shrink into my skin as he talked. His English was enviously brilliant and his charm smile worthy. But, all I could do was fear of having to speak. That I felt obligated to answer his friendly questions. Whatever, language I always have this expectation to please others or having to speak although I really don’t want to. And the fact we had to spend 40 minutes of this, my heart throbbed.
But in the darkness there was Paris. Although she wore a cloak there was something truly beautiful, lit with artificial light. And although she scared me. Despite how tired I was and only got an hour and a half sleep that night in that moment Paris had my heart.
I wanted to share with you my journey to Paris like week. Before I went, I searched the Internet for any accounts or help for travelling abroad when you have social anxiety. But, nothing. So the next few post will document my experience and what I have learned to help you.