December 27, 2018

I want to talk to you for a few minutes about Aquaman.

I was pretty excited about seeing this movie. I remember, as a kid, watching the Super Friends cartoon every Saturday morning and Aquaman being one of my favorites. I think it says a lot about my self esteem even back then that the superhero I looked up to was one with a very limited and reasonably useless set of powers, a fact Family Guy spoofed perfectly. (That, and I didn’t even like swimming very much, so that’s odd too.) It isn’t as bad as choosing the Wonder Twins as your idol, but it’s certainly an interesting exploration of self-worth. Another reason I want to see the movie is that, unlike the MCU, I’ve seen all of the latest DC movies, so I feel like I know what’s going on and I want to keep that streak going.

And then the New York Times reviewed it, and the review was bad. (And also funny. The NYT can be pretty funny, especially their bad reviews. Particularly the restaurant reviews. You should check them out.) As I read the review, not only did I feel bad for the people who made the movie, but I felt sorry for them. I found myself imagining them taking this review personally, feeling worthless and bad about themselves, and that I should really go see the movie to support them and to make them feel better, that it was almost a responsibility for me to do that.

So, to sum up: I actively thought that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate would feel better if I went and saw their latest blockbuster, and that it was my responsibility to do so.

That, for me, is what it’s like to live with anxiety.

 It’s different for everyone, although most people will tell you there is a commonality concerning change and order, as in they don’t like the first and try to maintain the second. As I’ve talked about before, crowds are definitely a source of anxiety for me, but another area is the continual fear that I am going to let people down, that I can’t let that happen and what I can do to make sure they feel good about themselves. That fear manifests itself as dread when it comes to meeting new people and involving myself in new situations. I can’t help but always imagine worstcase scenarios. I live in my head, projecting what I’m sure is going to happen. And it isn’t even always in my head. If you ever catch me talking to myself, which many of you have, I’m either working out some plot point in whatever novel I’m writing, or I’m creating the doomsday scenarios for everything that could possibly happen to me the rest of the day, and probably the next couple of days as well.

The most disconcerting thing about the anxiety is the perpetual motion of it. The depression I understand and accept. There are a couple of wires crossed in my head, and if that means every so often I lay awake longer than I’d like to thinking about my own mortality and that of those around me, so be it. I wish I knew better what would trigger depressive episodes, but at least I’m aware enough to recognize when I slip into one and how best to manage it. But the anxiety just doesn’t stop.

If my neighbors are on their porch, I won’t check the mail, because I’m afraid they’ll want to talk to me. I don’t go grocery shopping, because I can’t decide exactly what to buy and if I’ll have time to eat it, and I end up ordering delivery. I watch so many reruns because I’m afraid I might not like watching something new, or worse, I’ll feel pressure to like it, and if I don’t, then that says something about me, that there’s something wrong with me. The phone will ring, and I will see that it is someone I know and like, and I’ll still struggle with answering it, because I’m afraid I won’t have anything interesting to say, and I’ll bore them. And the list goes on.

I know that it throws people off that I can be so light-hearted and flip about all of this, but the truth is I’m either going to cry or laugh about it all, because that’s all I can really do in the end. It doesn’t make dealing with it any less important, but things can be important without being serious, and some days that’s the only way I get through. (That, and people tip a smiling bartender a lot more than they tip a scowling one.)

I probably won’t go see Aquaman, partially because it’s two and a half hours long, and partially because that’s just my M.O.: I get super-excited about a movie when I see the trailer, but by the time it gets to the theater, I’m just “meh” about it. But also, partially because I know I don’t have to. Bad reviews or not, it’s doing just fine at the box office, and the Jason brothers (Wan the director and Momoa the eye candy) won’t miss my $15. That’s honestly a relief for me, and might actually be the reason I do go see it. Because now I can watch it simply for my own enjoyment and not because I feel like I have to.

But I’m still going to say a hard no if they ever greenlight a Wonder Twins movie.

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