I guess everyone hits that point where they realize that maybe they are becoming old and out of touch. I think that maybe I’ve hit that point. I like to think that certain things should still be the way that they were when I was younger, the simpler times, when people seemed to still give a shit.

Picture of porch swing
Back in the “Good Old Days” we were taught a little something we called “Manners”…

With my anxiety and strangely heightened senses it is becoming increasingly difficult to go out in public. If I am not actively able to focus on something specific my mind quickly starts paying attention to everything going on around me and I am being ever increasingly shocked and horrified by the things that people around me seem to be okay with.

After careful consideration, I have concluded that I now have four options:

1) Never go out in public ever again! – While sitting on my porch with a shotgun may seem very tempting at times, this just doesn’t seem fun, I mean they came up with the term “cabin fever” for a reason, people aren’t meant to never be out in the public, we are social creatures. Also, given that our postal delivery person regularly misdelivers our mail (read: every single time) I highly doubt that I should be trusting them with all of the ensuing online shopping deliveries. Also, then I’d have to get more cats, and be the creepy lady that yells at the neighbour kids for bothering her, (not to mention figure out what permits I might need for a shotgun) it just seems like there has to be a better way.

2) Take Powerful Drugs – This is the most common suggestion given by friends and family… “If you cry or get angry every time you see people doing stupid things then you need to get back on the meds!”. This is wrong on so many levels, I mean why should I spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to decrease my quality of life so that I can be a zombie that doesn’t notice that people are being allowed to be completely inconsiderate jackasses all around me? How is THAT fair?!

Picture of woman zombie in flowery hat
Thanks to these expensive pills I am not able to accomplish much more than drooling… but hey, at least your misbehaving child doesn’t annoy me any more!

3) Try and show people they are idiots – As much as this is what I really really want to do, it just isn’t feasible in the grand scheme of things. How would I accomplish this? If I were to take the direct approach and confront people I’d probably end up in jail or at least with a large collection of restraining orders and who can really afford all those legal fees? Alternatively, I thought about taking a more indirect approach and just ‘setting a good example’ but sadly, I have come to the realization that no amount of my ‘acting properly’ or giving ‘disapproving looks’ will ever manage to ‘shame’ someone into changing their blasé approach to my apparently archaic ideas about etiquette, they simply don’t care what I think.

4) Experiment with various methods to induce tolerance – I’m sure you can tell that this is the most viable option, but here’s the thing, it is also by far the HARDEST one! It is not the hardest because it involves the most effort (although it does), what makes it the hardest is that there are very few resources out there that give practical steps to actually achieve an increased level of tolerance! Most articles about stress and anxiety are quite good at explaining WHY you need more tolerance, but they don’t tell you HOW to do it. I think the problem is that most of the ‘experts’ don’t actually KNOW HOW they are just spouting all the same crap everyone else does and hoping that you’ll stumble upon a way to do it yourself (or… give up and buy their expensive drugs), this is where we who suffer have to start to get creative and as anyone who has suffered from a very low tolerance for morons can tell you, when you are in an intolerable situation there is very little brain power available for creativity!

What’s the good news? I’ve found that if I dig deep enough and talk to the right people I really have found some suggestions on HOW! For instance, today I have managed to sit in a public library for over three hours with only minimal levels of infuriation when up until recently I was only able to manage about ten minutes tops! How is this possible you say?!

I had been searching for a way to distract myself from the fact that despite my deeply ingrained belief that people should be quiet while they are in a library nobody else seems to consider that lowering their voice is even an option, and when I realized that apparently there was some sort of vote somewhere that decided that not even the librarians need to attempt to regulate their own volume anymore I had started to abandon hope of ever enjoying quiet time again.

Everyone I know said to drown out all the noises by “putting on headphones and listening to music” but there is a fundamental problem with this solution namely: If noise is what bothers me, then drowning out the really annoying noise with louder noise doesn’t actually solve the noise issue, even if it does happen to be slightly less annoying.

I started thinking about ways that I could block the sound and thought about how sometimes you see people wearing earmuffs or ear defenders at odd times and like most of us insensitive people out there we chuckle at the weirdness of it all (think the brother in Something About Mary). Seeing as I already have enough self esteem issues to deal with, I do not need to give people additional reasons to stare at me but it got me thinking… What I realized was that I could wear industrial grade earplugs!

Picture of girl wearing pink headphones
What am I listening to? Death Metal? Christian Pop? Classical? Electro Funk?… or is it Blissful Silence!

Now, I’m sure you are picturing the weirdo in the library typing at their laptop with strange pieces of fluorescent coloured foam sticking out of their ears but here’s the thing… I had the brilliant idea of putting my music headphones OVER my earplugs, it has a double bonus of cancelling out even more noise and at the same time camouflaging the fluorescent foam. If someone looks over at me they see a girl sitting with her headphones plugged into her laptop listening to music, what they don’t know is that I’m enjoying the pleasantly calming sounds of my own breath (with only the odd intrusion of the muted sounds of just the really extra loud parts of the background noise).

Where am I going with this? Well… maybe there’s hope for me yet! In the meantime get off my lawn you young whippersnappers!

~ Elena <3

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