Two days ago, I decided to go for a walk around my local neighbourhood. For most, this of course sounds normal, pleasant even. Unfortunately for me, I have symptoms of agoraphobia, which means getting my feet outside the door, let alone get them moving, is challenging enough.
When I finally made the push to go for a walk, it was a huge mental challenge. The world outside my house terrifies me, mostly because I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. I’m short and chubby with brown skin and blue hair. Inside my house I take pride in this – I’m confident, I’m different. Outside my house I feel I am reduced to a preposition – I’m too different, I’m too confident and also, irrationally, too loud. My breathing quickens because of anxiety, and even if someone is across the road from me, I am constantly worrying that they can hear my slightly laboured breaths as I attempt to walk up a hill.
The walk began normally, as an internal battle – it felt like I was dragging my feet to keep going, like alarm bells were going off inside my head. Even as I write this outside, sat in my own garden, the fear of my neighbours hearing or seeing me has encased my brain in this barrier of constant worry.
But, as I continued, I happened across a large open field with horses. Suddenly, my brain didn’t feel so enclosed. The wind blowing past me felt friendlier. The bees buzzing around me seemed happier. I was finally able to slow my brain down.
It was in that space of quiet, of stillness, that I was able to talk to myself and reassure myself. How was I feeling? Anxious. Why was I feeling this way? Because I’m highly aware of the people around me. Is that sense of awareness a bad thing? Not all the time because it’s how I’ve been able to protect myself – from people mugging me, from idiot men cat-calling me, and perhaps even from my own vulnerability.
In asking myself these questions, I then realised that I could push myself, and connect my Agoraphobia to poetry. I realised if I could push myself to go for a walk outside and come back feeling better, surely, I could push myself to go for a walk outside in order to write poetry, to also help my recent writer’s block. You can watch that moment here:
And that is how Agora-Poetry was born! I’ve decided to tackle my fear every day and write 1 poem every day, most likely for at least a month from today.
Unfortunately, though, the day after this decision I twisted my ankle. And if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall that when I went to Hong Kong last year for study abroad, I sprained my left ankle. So, this twist has taken a couple days to recover from.
I’m healing and am hoping that tomorrow at least I can do a small walk around my block or sit on a bench somewhere and write. For now, I’m sat in my garden, somewhat scared (and sweaty lol) as I listen to my neighbours talk.
But as I listen closer, there’s also the sound of a baby bird chirping happily at the top of the tree. And instead, that is the one I’m choosing to focus on.