It’s loud. There’s a subway train rattling up above me while I’m waiting in traffic. Cars blaring as the afternoon crowd heads into the city. I know the clock’s ticking and I avoid looking at the digital numbers on the dashboard.
At this point, I’m slightly overwhelmed.
But this is New York City. The Big Apple. The original Gotham.
The trip from the airport where I cast my eyes on the five boroughs from a plane landing at LaGuardia to my hotel was an experience I will never forget. I’m not sure if it’s like this in other parts of America, but it seems merging into lanes doesn’t require a turn signal.
It took me a month after my trip to realize I did have the symptoms of an anxious traveller.
It’s funny because many common threads of having travel anxiety include the fear of flying – which wasn’t my case since I didn’t bat an eye after hearing that I was over 30,000 feet in the air. For someone who’s never had anxiety before, it was a strange feeling. I always felt like there was a phantom clock ticking somewhere in the back of my head for every moment I walked through Gotham’s streets. It made me feel like I would be late to a book signing event I was volunteering at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel, near Times Square. Or that I wouldn’t make it a restaurant before they closed.
Silly to think, considering I was in the city that never sleeps. Being late is the one thing in the world that stresses me out and puts a damper on my mood.
But the amount of worries piled up and I didn’t fully grasp them until I returned home. I had a lot on my plate during my weekend in New York City. Navigating alone to a building where a party was being hosted wasn’t as easy as I anticipated.
I still have no clue what the difference is between avenues and streets.
Without having that second person travelling with me, I felt like I doubted a lot of my instincts. I had quite a few negative thoughts cloud my mind, like missing my flight home or getting lost and never finding my way back.
I slept comfortably in a swanky hotel, had some delicious, greasy American food and saw the city with my eyes filled with wonder. But there was always that nagging ticking clock in the back of my head that worried me to no ends.
For the majority of the time I thought, screw it, I’m in N.Y.C.! How many people my age get to travel alone? And it helped. I love N.Y.C. and it’s constant bustle. People look like they have a place to go, a person to be, even at midnight.
Eventually, I had to accept that I wouldn’t be able to see all of N.Y.C. You can only do so much in a weekend, especially if you’re on a business trip. That helped to alleviate my anxiety and I was able to enjoy my trip.
However, N.Y.C. has been very welcoming to me, someone who’s just beginning to cross off cities on her travel bucket-list. However, it will be a while before I decide to hop into a new city alone.