Whilst I am usually in a state of mild anxiety, there have been 5 defining moments in my life where my anxiety reached monumental heights and really buggered things up.
PARIS, FRANCE 2010
When I was in University most of my closest friends were doing one of the Photography courses whereas I did Film. To cut a long story short, their class trip to the Paris Photo Biennial in 2010 suddenly had a free space available which any one from any course with the money to pay could fill. Since 2 people on that course lived with me and one was my best friend they alerted me to this straight away.
I should also explain that on that trip was a guy I had a small, tiny, little crush on.
Ok, I really liked him.
I dealt with this in typical Flo fashion which was to avoid him at all costs. Unfortunately on that trip all my friends were friends with him and I ended up spending most of the time with him, which was enough to make the most composed girl a little bit nervous and stressed.
One night we were all in a bar when some guys joined us. The new guests at the table were pretty blatant about trying to get the ladies of the table to come back to where they were staying. Most of the ladies at the table were not slutty enough to actually go through with this, but weren’t exactly saying no to the attention.
Despite having spent most of my sexually awakened years single and a bit desperate to rectify this I have a pretty bad reaction to male attention. In that I hate it.
I was the classic ‘wanting the one I can’t have’ because it was safer to live in a dream world then face reality.
Whenever a man paid attention to me I would usually have one or more of the following thoughts:
- You must think I’m really ugly and would be so pathetically grateful for any attention that I will jump straight into bed with you. Well I won’t.
- You only think I am good looking because we are in bad lighting conditions and if you saw me in daylight you would run away, so we may as well not start something. (I did once put a stopper on a guy’s attention because I thought this)
- You like me? What the hell is wrong with you? You must be a bigger freak than I am.
Yes I subscribed to the Groucho Marx train of thought, where he didn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member, I didn’t want to go out with anyone who liked me. Why? Because then I would have to admit to myself that I might be likeable after all. And I couldn’t do that.
So anyhow, hot guys in Paris paying attention to me, and I was doing anything to put them off, including saying I had a boyfriend, which wasn’t true and didn’t put them off.
We all eventually left. I had been in a state of panic for a while, not because I thought the guys were bad or evil or that something bad was going to happen, but because I just wanted out of there. I found it exhausting. I wanted out of that situation and had been planning on walking back to the Hotel on my own.
I was walking ahead of everyone when the guy I fancied came up to me and tried to talk to me. I was in my ‘shutters have come down’ state and wasn’t really making much sense. Then he said what every girl hopes to hear uttered by the boy she likes in the most romantic city in the world.
‘You’re a bit odd, you are.’
Needless to say we never went out.
This moment was defining because it explains why I get stressed in social situations. Because when you’re in a big group of friends it is hard to leave without drawing lots of attention to yourself. In fact nearly all of the stories I will eventually share with you are about me being stuck in a social situation where the average person will be having the time of their life, and I am in a state. I will tell you about my Prom night, My Graduation and My Friend’s Weddings. Then I will tell you the most event because it wasn’t a one day event, it was a prolonged period of time.
But for now, that was me, in Paris, with a hot guy, being odd.