It was a normal weekday afternoon and I had just finished another day of second grade. The teachers walked all of the students out to the sidewalk and lined us up while we waited for our parents. I waited, and waited, and waited. In my mind it seemed like hours had passed. My fingers fidgeted as I picked at my cuticles. The line of cars had filed through and Ms. Candy, my art teacher, walked back towards the school with the stop sign she used to direct traffic. I looked around and realized that all of the usual after-school care kids surrounded me. My stomach knotted up and I began to feel extremely warm. My palms sweating, tears welled up in the corner of my eyes. I hid my face from my fellow second grade classmates and looked out towards the street. I couldn’t see around the bend, it was a blind corner. Kids started walking back into the school towards the after-school care room and I reluctantly began to follow. I thought I might be sick. One last time I looked out to the street that led to the school. My eyes squinted at the car I saw approaching. It was silver. Please let this be mom. The car sped into the pickup line and my mom rolled down the window. I smiled ear to ear and booked it to the car. My stomach unknotted and I wiped my eyes. My tears were tears of happiness now and not anxiety.
Looking back on this experience and many others like it, I realized that my anxiety stems from my fear of the unknown. I always told my mom to be early when she picked me up because I couldn’t handle the stress of waiting. My anxiety convinced me that I didn’t know if my mom was going to pick me up. What if she left me at after-school care? What if she never came to pick me up? What if she got in a car accident and that’s why she didn’t pick me up? What if she died? My anxious thoughts seemed to always build and build.
I find myself feeling this way right now. I’m looking down the street for my mom in her car, but I can’t see her. I cannot see what is next and what is to come. So much is currently unknown, and I simply cannot plan for it. When I look at my calendar, I can’t pencil in activities that I will be doing next month. I don’t know what next month will look like, let alone what tomorrow will hold. For now, life is on a day by day basis.
For me, this is much easier said than done. Not being able to control what will happen in the future is scary and daunting. However, while I may not be able to plan, I know deep down that everything will work itself out. It might not be the way I originally thought, but that’s okay. It’s something that I must learn to live with. While my mom may not have been first in the line of cars at pick up, she was always there. Looking into the future, I’m squinting, and I think I can see some good things that are coming just around the corner.