Title: Anxiety/High Anxiety
OpEdNews Article -- July 6, 2016
Submitted By: Catherine Lawrence
I have found that in my life there is always an edge of anxiety when I face the unknown. Of course, we all face anxiety at one time or another and for me it usually dissipates once I face the unknown and conquer it; however, High Anxiety is another matter. Here in Georgia I have faced both levels of anxiety and to my surprise not what I had originally thought.
In preparing to come to Georgia I had anxiety about so many aspect of what I was signing up for. For example, new foreign language, meeting and living in unfamiliar surroundings, missing my family, connecting with new people (would they like me), dealing with winter/cold, meeting the expectations, not having central heating, and how I was going to get my clothes cleaned without benefit of a washing machine. I was a mess of anxieties. I think some of these anxieties arose during my interviews with the Peace Corps (when I filled out the questionnaire) and also in doing the research and readings that I did to prepare. I also questioned by abilities and if I could handle this. I had to make peace with how I was going to deal with the anxieties I was feeling. I rationalized that anxiety must be a good thing as it means growth (once you overcome the fear). However, I never expected to feel anxiety (really High Anxiety) from any of the situations (the BIG 3) I am about to talk about -- Dogs, Cars and Traveling on Georgian Roads.
Before I begin I want you, my readers, to understand that the situations I am about to discuss are not unique to Georgia. Absolutely, I am sure there are traffic, car and dog situations all over the world that are exactly or similar to what I describe; however, since I live in Georgia I write to share what my experiences have been here.
Cars and riding on Georgian roads could be thought of as one situation; however, it is really not. Cars in the town that I live in can be considered lethal weapons in my opinion -- so, let me begin here. Of course I cannot talk about cars without talking about the people driving them. It does not make any difference if a man or woman is driving, they all (or so it seems) have the same mind set. That is, the car is KING. What happens to these people when they get behind the wheel of a car -- A question that is always in the forefront? The pedestrian here in Georgia is an afterthought. I cannot begin to tell you how many times a car has almost hit me or driven over my foot. I've seen a car almost hit a woman with a baby carriage because she did not get out of the way fast enough. And that, Dear Reader, is the core of cars here in Georgia -- we (pedestrians) are in the way of the car.
Because the sidewalks are terrible to walk on we walkers are forced to walk on the road (as the road is a little better paved than the sidewalks). I stop myself cold in my tracks when I see a car coming as I am really not sure if the car/driver sees me. At times I feel invisible. I feel like a deer in the headlights (how is that for high anxiety). I am stunned when I think I am far enough over (near the sidewalk) and then I see a car coming my way. I don't know which way to jump or just to freeze. I often realize there is a pot hole he/she does not want to hit and the car swerves and barely misses me. At times I do walk on the sidewalk and then a car drives up on the sidewalk to park. They do this at top speed and jerk to a stop and then glare at me as to what I was doing in the place they wanted to park. Or worse yet, the driver has no clue that they almost hit me.
The other side of the coin is driving the roads in Georgia. When I get into a car or a marsh my heart begins to race. There are a number of reasons for this and the BIGGEST reason is the tailgating that goes on in order for drivers to pass a car that is not going fast enough. In Georgia most of the roads are two lanes so if you want to pass a car you have to go into the oncoming lane. My heart is in my mouth so often while traveling as drivers take such risks to pass.
When a driver wants to pass a car they get right up to their bumper and wait for the chance to go around them (into the oncoming lane) and pass. This sometimes happens very quickly; but, often times it takes a lot of time waiting for the moment when there is no oncoming traffic or the driver can see the road in a distance that no cars are approaching. High Anxiety barely touches the surface on this. I feel my whole body want to pick up the car and move it -- push it along. Please, my brain screams -- just pass! Sometimes unexpected oncoming traffic sneaks up and then we have a three way race (maybe four way race) on a two way lane highway. I often see visions of a head on collision and know that there is nothing I can do about it.
Now, cars and marshes are bad enough but at times drivers needs to pass oil tankers or big rigs trucks and that just takes more time to get around. Usually the driver passes on the left; however, there are times when the driver passes on the right and then the car or marsh dips down off the highway road and into the gravel along the road. Many times I thought we would just tip over and roll down the mountain. I will only be a passenger in the day light hours as at night (since there are no overhead lights on the road leading to my town) all you see while this tailgating and passing is going on is HEAD LIGHTS in your face. It is truly frightening.
Given all of the above it is DOGS that give me greatest sense of High Anxiety. I've been attacked twice by dogs here in my town. The first time I got blamed for it as I was carrying bread that the dogs were going after. The dogs here are starving and mistreated. No wonder that they went after me with bread. The second time was by a neighbor's dog and I still have no idea why he took a run at me. In both cases I was hurt but not that bad. I was lucky. Every day that I walk the road into the center of town I am apprehensive as I really don't know what will happen. Dogs are just so unpredictable.
I look for other people on the road that possibly would help me if I found myself dealing with a dog. I don't know why seeing other people would give me comfort as both times I was attacked it was in front of people watching the dog(s) surround me, attack me or take a run at me. I pick up rocks and sticks to ward off the dogs and most times it works; however, the fear and High Anxiety is still present. It is with a sigh of relief, every time, when I reach my destination.
I expected so many levels of anxiety as I began my service here in Georgia; however, I never expected the HIGH Anxiety that I face and continue to face every time I walk or ride down the road from cars and dogs. I face these challenges every day as I have no choice. If I want to continue service I must deal with my fears and find ways to combat them. I don't know if I will ever overcome Georgian cars, roads and dogs; but, I applaud myself for facing the fear and moving forward.