What a lovely word. Just the way it rolls off your tongue. An- tici-pation. When I was working, I loved Fridays in anticipation of the weekend. One can see a cheesecake and anticipate the way it is going to roll around your mouth slowly melting, the sweet, succulent goo sliding down your throat. One can anticipate the touch of a lover or the ending of a good story. It makes me positively tingly when I am anticipating something exciting. And in many ways, everything is exciting. Until it isn’t.
There is another side to anticipation. There is the side that cripples you with fear when anticipating an activity you do not want to be a part of. When I was a young adult I was terrified of crowds. (To some extent I still am.) Ever a resourceful child, I develop strategies to deal with almost every situation. I did my research on popular topics of the day so if it ever came up in conversation I wouldn’t look like an idiot. I was always afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing something stupid. And quite honestly, I have done both, more than once. I am nothing if not consistent.
Research is a strength of mine. And I put it to good use. I also developed phrases, witticisms that I could pull out at a moment’s notice. When people are amused, they are not noticing. In University I studied Drama and English. It gave me a whole new set of skills that I could use in my subterfuge. And I was good. When I was performing, I would almost throw up before going on stage but once I got there, I could inhabit my alter ego and act with aplomb. I never felt that I was cheating other people, I was protecting myself. I was protecting that six-year-old child who would be dizzy with panic at having to face someone.
I am older now but that child is still buried deep within my psyche. I may appear to be confident and to some extent I think I am. But that fear will always lurk in the back of my mind. And I am not alone. There are others who deal with the same kind of issues: crippling fears, lack of self-confidence, all-consuming nervousness. But while as a child I felt I was alone; I know now that I am not. And that in itself gives me confidence.
Like so many things we do, if we do it long enough it becomes a habit. To this day I constantly have conversations in my head about situations that might arise so that I am prepared, just in case. I think we are all afraid of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. We all want to seem positive and clever to other people. Perhaps it can even be seen as an incentive to learn more about what’s going on in the world, to be prepared. As a child my family all sat around the dinner table and talked. Most of the time I just listened but I also learned. The topics ranged from what happened that day in a 9 year old’s world to the politics of the time. This continued throughout my life.
We all have a fantasy about being someone else, or being a better version of ourselves. That is commendable. But that anticipation can be both exciting and terrifying. And that’s what makes it all fun.