You’re standing in an open field, there is nothing else around you, just grass and open sky. Oh, and the balloons of course. A large circle of different coloured, bright, squishy balloons. Some are blue, some are red, some are yellow. Their strings just trailing the ground as they hover there…say about head height.
Then imagine that someone says to you, “Right, you, each of these balloons represents a different activity, a different part of your life. Now in a few minutes these balloons are going to start rising and flying away, you need to catch them. You don’t know which balloons represent what, so you don’t know if you like all of them or if you will enjoy the activities, so catch as many as you can.”
So there is you, stood in the middle of these balloons, staring wildly at them trying to figure out which ones to get first. Maybe one of each colour? Maybe collect all the blue ones first? Maybe just watch them and see which ones go first and go for them!” The minutes seem to drag as you tensely watch for the most minute signs that one is rising. You almost dash off multiple times thinking that one is…but it isn’t.
Finally, tense and stressed, you confirm that red one opposite you is definitely higher than the others. You dash over to get it but by the time you grab onto the string (which is hard, they are quite strong balloons) you look round and three others have already risen, so you rush to try and grab one but it’s too late, it’s gone, and in the time you spent trying to catch that one the other two have now gone too. You look round and run to the next one, not paying attention to the red one you currently have which is slowly worming it’s way out of your grasp.
Panicing, head rushing, scrabbling about, you might be lucky to be left with one balloon.
If you get stuck in this circle too many times, you may start just standing still in the middle, paralysed by indecision, certain that no matter what you do, you’ll make the wrong move.
This is what my anxiety feels like.