Yesterday I had an apointment with my therapist at 5pm, a lot later than when I normally take the bus downtown. While I waited for the bus to show up I quickly began to relize that the bus was running late.
It took all the presence of mind I had to keep from screaming at every old lady who took 5 minutes to slowly board or disembark the bus. By the time my bus got downtown I only had 8 minutes to reach capitol hill to make my appointment on time, that’s 6 crowded city blocks with stoplights to be traversed uphill in 8 minutes. You can bet I did a good deal of j-walking, and as I grit my teeth I made my “get the eff out of my way” face until each oncoming pedestrian, startled, parted in a silent sea ahead of me.
As the clock ticked down the moment felt so dire and my sense of urgency so great that I had a panic attack. My legs locked and my half-jog turned into a hobble as the air was suddenly sucked from my chest. The interstate whirled below me as I gasped, tears rushed their way to my flushed face but I continued to teeter on. Three minutes, two minutes, one minute…
By the time I reached the elevator it was a minute past the hour and my panic had already hit its peak. Now I was comprised of jelly, legs and arms weak as I slouched in the corner and attempted to press the button for the third floor. With all of my muscles relaxed at once, the light headed high carried me to the front desk.
I am here, but I am not present.
It has been a while since I’ve had a panic attack but for a while I was having them all the time. I’d have to lock myself in the bathroom at work so I could ride it out without everyone in the building asking me what was wrong.
I have roughly 4 years of retail work experience and I think what has helped me thrive the most in that environment is my sense of urgency. Even my current employer hires based partially on a candidate’s “sense of urgency”, the desire to accomplish a lot in a little amount of time.
Because I have this trait I have often been seen as a star employee, someone who sets an example for others. People have tired to promote me based on it. It is something that made me seem “good” at school while I was doing that too. In this day and age, having a sense of urgency is a quality coveted by many employers.
And I can admit, there are times at work where I wonder what some people are thinking. Or on the bus. Or on the street. People who have no regard for what is going on around them, people that take their time without either realizing or caring that they are somehow making things more difficult for other people. You know, those people who reach the top of the escalator and stand directly in the path of every single person coming up (and unable to stop) behind them.
I suppose that makes me valuable.
Honestly though, I wish it was something that I could turn off. That sense of urgency so prized by my employers is often much more of a burden than a blessing. It has a much darker name, anxiety, and she loves to pump me up and then screw with my emotions. Even when I am depressed it is there, only its twice as furious because I’m accomplishing so little.