In the last few years I have found myself suffering from mild anxiety in certain situations and, for me, celebrating New Year's Even in some robust, going-out, glitz and glam way is nothing more than an over-priced anticlimax (complete with a hangover). I'd venture to guess that along with the inevitable letdown of a hyped-up evening, there are a few things nervous people hate about New Year's Eve.
My dislike of what qualifies as "normal" New Year's Eve celebrations can be traced back to a particular stressful event, 11 years ago. The summer before, my hometown of London, England had fallen victim to a horrifying terrorist attack, known simply by its date (7/7). A reported 56 people were killed and over 700 were injured in coordinated attacks targeting buses and tube trains. In an echo of the aftermath following the attack on New York City on Sept. 11, people desperately tried to call their loved ones and scour media reports for details of exactly what had happened. We spent a tense afternoon locating all our friends and family and feeling terribly sad and vulnerable.
The New Year's Eve that followed that fateful summer day, I chose to see friends and travelled to London Bridge to watch the fireworks. As we exited the tube station, unbeknownst to me we were a little late to the proceedings and the midnight hour was quickly approaching. What actually happened was that one large exploding firework signaled the start of 2006, and excited party-goers realizing they were missing the start of the display, ran yelling through the narrow tunnels. But for me, still reeling from the summer's devastation, what I experienced was just an explosion, running, and screaming. For completely illogical (but understandable) reasons, I hid under the giant Christmas tree in the middle of the station, and had a panic attack.
We are often reminded after horrifying terrorists attacks that we must not change our plans, habits, and behaviors. We're told that we must not live in fear and for 364 days of the year, I heed this advice and defiantly enjoy my city and live my life. However, on New Year's Eve I'll be vegging out at home, unapologetically and for the foreseeable future.
The Thanksgiving turkey is barely eaten before people start asking you about your New Year's Eve plans. The night represents so many things to so many people, so I can understand the excitement. However, for people with anxiety the night can mean something entirely different (and not that appealing) so simply being asked to provide this "should be exciting" list of planned New Year's Eve extravaganzas is, well, overwhelming.
There are locations to choose, tickets to buy, friends to organize, money to collect, outfits to select. Isn't this supposed to be fun?
A new outfit, tickets to an event, alcohol, food, and then a ridiculous overpriced Uber and/or cab ride home (usually with surge pricing in full effect), makes this one night to end the year nothing short of expensive. It also has this hermit, wondering if that one night is even worth it. (Answer: probably not, in my humble opinion.)
Anyone who suffers from feelings of nervousness, I assume, finds crowds particularly stressful. On New Year's Eve, these crowds are excited and drunk, so the chances are high that it'll be less fun, and more dangerous.
Drunk people are unpredictable, which is why anxiety sufferers sometimes find those who are drinking to excess to be nothing short of frightening. Excessive alcohol consumption can also trigger memories of traumatic situations and exacerbate anxiety issues, so skipping out on the booze is (in my opinion) is a pretty damn smart choice.
Loud explosions like the type that put me off my New Year's Eve celebrations, are never going to be the top choice for nervous people. Sure, they look pretty and whatever, but they also make me feel like I'm in the middle of some war movie that I'm in no way interested in experiencing.
The Time Crunch
The prospect of being late to the countdown, or missing out on it entirely, is all too much. There is also something quite sad about the end of one year and something a bit scary about the start of the unknown. I really don't want to be surrounded by strangers when I have my customary end of year cry.
The pressure! That moment before everyone starts singing and they turn and kiss anyone in the immediate vicinity is kind of creepy, if you really stop to think about it. What if I don't want to kiss anyone just at that moment? What if it's a stranger next to me? What if it is a particular someone I don't want to kiss? I am getting panicked just thinking about it! #Consent
Once the party is over, you and every other person on earth will try to cram into the last taxi, night bus, or train out of the city. It's pandemonium and incredibly stressful, especially for anxious people like me. I would rather just stay home and watch the crowds from the comfort of my home, than be stuck in traffic for two hours.
The worst unspoken thing about having a child, is enduring a hangover and still being expected to parent. Not only do children wake incredibly early, but they are loud, their TV shows and toys are annoying, and they know you are at your weakest (I swear this is when they decide to throw that one, epic tantrum that has you questioning your life choices). At least that's how it feels when they peel your eyelid open and scream, "Wake up, mom!"
Save your anxious self all this drama and stay in with a good bottle, good food, and your favorite people. Of course, you could consider hosting a party at your place because, well, at least you'll be close to your bed if you need to retreat.