Although life with anxiety is never plain sailing, and there is still a long way to go to get my life where I want it to be, one of the things I am most proud of is my gig-going adventures. They are and have been just local, and are not without their challenges, but to have pushed myself to do as much as I have done, is something that I always come back to for motivation.
I think part of it is that music is a powerful motivation. I've always been a huge fan of music, it makes me feel alive! I enjoy music and dance-based films, sometimes write lyrics, and more recently I have written about it as a freelance writer. So that has pushed me where other things haven't, and perhaps the other thing is I have done all this on my own. I'm not always the best with any kind of planning and social expectations and don't really have a close social circle locally for support on these outings. I have tried and succeeded, tried and failed, tried and found things got a lot easier. It's an entirely different experience going on my own, but in some ways, it works. I can come and go as I want, don't have to think about anybody else, and have got to know quite a few people, to varying degrees, that I might not have done otherwise; people in bands, music fans, people that promote and run events locally, and people that have been very supportive of my writing.
But there are things I make sure I do every time I am planning to go out, so I thought I'd share a few with this post, in case they help anyone else who might need some coping mechanisms.
- Aisle Seats - if it's a theatre show these are always a must-have with me, even if I was with someone, I wouldn't want to be in the middle of a crowd, I just think it would be a bit claustrophobic. I also try and book in the sides of the theatre, sometimes the back, or maybe even the balcony, so I am a bit away from it all, and it's easier to relax.
- Try a 'practice visit' to a venue - this only really works for local venues, but I found going to something I wasn't that fussed about helped me to scope out different places, their vibe, and decide whether I would feel comfortable going to gigs there. It didn't 'matter' how long I was there for.
- Be prepared - I always make sure I have certain things with me, even if I never use them for weeks or months on end, I always feel better if I have a supply of mints, rescue remedy, tissues, water. It may seem like a simple thing, but it all counts for me.
- Don't be too early or too late - I always check timings before I go to an event, especially if I really want to see a specific act or band above all others. If it's a festival, I try and work out the time I most want to be there to get the best experience, but so I'm not trying to amuse myself hanging around too much waiting, or with nothing to do. I try and give a decent time to get ready, travel, and deal with any unsettled feelings, then go and enjoy as much as I can.
Anxiety and the way you deal with it always has its critics, but equally, people I know have said to me that I am doing things they wouldn't ever do on their own. I hope your gig-going experiences are successful ones, and if you suffer from any kind of anxiety, you've found lots of ways of dealing with whatever comes your way. I have my first gig ticket booked for 2019, and can't wait to buy more and see what happens.