‘I try not to worry about the future – so I take each day just one anxiety attack at a time.’ – Tom Wilson.
I have spent the last few days fighting anxiety and the nagging feeling that I’m about to burst into tears at the drop of a hat. Although nobody actually dropped a hat at any point, I have involuntarily cried on several occasions, generally when driving from one destination to the next. Basically, my South Island adventure so far has not been as wonderful as I was hoping and it’s been a bit of a difficult start to what was supposed to be two and a half amazing months of travel.
It seems to come down to the fact that although I love travelling alone, I have realised that I often feel at my most anxious when I’m without company. I have discovered that the security of having others with me, friends, family or even strangers, really helps pick me up again. My mind stops racing, my thoughts slow down and I stop over-thinking when I’m around other people. It’s almost as if them reassuring me, telling me that ‘it’s fine’ and there’s no need to worry is all I need to calm down, take a breath and chill the F out!
For example, I arrived in Queenstown yesterday to meet up with L and her sister and as soon as I saw them (and after an emotional phone conversation with C in the meantime, who also helped immensely!) I immediately felt a lot better. The worries and unfounded fears that had been plaguing me on the drive from Twizel to Queenstown faded into the background and I re-emerged happy and laughing again, ready to enjoy my limited time with L before we go our separate ways until June. And all because I was able to offload a little and C and L said those magic words – ‘it’ll be okay, don’t worry.’
And during my first two nights on the South Island, when I was camping in holiday parks, I have met complete strangers who have cheered me up without even knowing it, just by generally being awesome. As a side note, these generous and unassuming acts of kindness have lifted my spirits and made me remember how lovely and good people can be to one another, a timely reminder when there is so much bad stuff going on around the world. An elderly guy named Jack stole sofa cushions out of the TV room to make my tent comfier to sleep in and made me breakfast on Friday morning in Geraldine. In Twizel, I was invited by a group of people to drink with them and share their cheese, even though we had met just five minutes earlier. They turned out to be hilarious and really good fun, and once again they helped me keep my over-active brain in check.
All in all, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a variety of things that I’ve been worrying about. I’m going through a period of change, something that would scare the crap out of a lot of people, not just me! The thought of going back to the UK for a while makes me nervous, despite my earlier excitement at the prospect of what I will do once I get there. I have niggling money worries – ‘will my funds last me for two and a half months?’, ‘what if I run out of money?’, ‘can I afford to buy this?’ etc etc. I have felt like I am wasting time (and therefore money) by doing this trip on the South Island, even though I really wanted to come back before I left New Zealand and was really looking forward to this trip before I came. As such, I’ve been unable to enjoy myself as much as I’d hoped. It’s gone right down to the little things – stressing out about where I’ll stay each night, even though none of the holiday parks or campsites are anywhere near full capacity, and whether or not my car will be broken into whilst I’m out on a walk in Mt Cook National Park (of course not!!). It’s all been a bit ridiculous really!
Ultimately, despite all my worries, anxieties and stresses, I know everything will work out just how it is supposed to. Plans can change (to an extent) and I have a wonderful network of friends and family who all want to look after me and ensure I’m happy. I want to ensure I’m happy too – which is why I’ve decided to make a conscious effort each evening to take my mind off the things that have been bothering it during the day, either by meeting new people or taking some time for myself and chilling out, watching a movie or whatever I fancy doing. I can’t eradicate my anxieties completely but I can try to ignore them or mitigate them to make myself feel happier.
It’s onwards and upwards – I need to make the most of my remaining days in New Zealand, I only have 16 left in this beautiful country and I want to enjoy them. I leave the South Island on the 12th April (9 days, eek!) and will be sad when I do, but excited to spend my final week with good friends before my next adventure begins when I fly to Mongolia on the 19th April. Weirdly enough, I’m not feeling directly anxious about my solo trip to Mongolia (yet), most of my current concerns are about New Zealand and my time left here. I imagined I’d get more nervous about Mongolia but so far that’s not been the case… Fingers crossed it stays that way!!
It’ll be back to regular scheduled posts in the near future, with more posts to come about my last few weeks in New Zealand (I daresay they might get emotional!!) and some moody photos from the South Island.
Postscript: since writing and publishing this post just earlier today, I have been in a much better frame of mind. Since leaving Queenstown at 11am, I’ve only wanted to cry once and that was because I said goodbye to L!! A scenic drive over the Crown Range with plenty of photo stops, some epic clouds, a sunny greeting from Wanaka and a brisk hike up a hill have all served to make me feel lots better. Add to that the fact that I’m staying in a dorm room tonight with just me, myself and I for company and you’ve got a much happier, more positive Bethen come nightfall!! It’s amazing what exercise, good views and a room to yourself will do for your spirits. Let’s hope the anxiety stays away now for a bit and I can get on and enjoy my remaining time on the South Island, worry free. Fingers crossed!