Fear and crossing the street in Boston

Boston traffic

This is what I often face when I cross streets in Boston. No wonder I’m afraid. 

“Show no fear!”

That’s what a young hipster girl with short cropped red hair shouted at me as I tried to cross a busy street. It was a two-lane street with cars going in the same direction, and there was a lot of traffic. A driver slowed down and signaled me to cross. I said no. I never agree to this when there are two lanes of traffic going the same way, because who knows if the driver in the other lane will be as kind.

Yet another driver signaled for me to cross. Yet again, no way. Then I third driver. Uh uh. I looked and saw traffic coming as far as I could see. And I thought that I needed to make a move if I was ever going to get across this street.

That’s when Hipster Girl shouted at me. I guess in her own way, she meant to be helpful. Still, this just isn’t a good thing to say to someone with Anxiety Disorder. Of course, she had no clue that I have Anxiety Disorder, though she must have seen the fear on my face. If only I could tell Hipster Girl that I am afraid — not only of crossing the street, but of a million other things. Telling me to show no fear is like telling Donald Trump to show some class.

I must say, though, that when it comes to crossing streets in Boston, I honestly believe that my anxiety is justified. Boston prides itself with being one of America’s most walkable cities — until you have to cross a street. Too few streets have walk signals, and the ones that do exist are hopelessly out-of-date and out-of-sync. Here’s an old Boston joke. How do you cross the street in Boston? You run for your life and pray.

But in this situation, I stood like a statue. Hipster Girl noticed.

“Show no fear!”

Oh, how I’d like to. Girl, you have no idea.

But, as embarrassed as I was, I slowly stepped from the sidewalk and on to the street. I got bold. And drivers did yield to me. I made it across the street.

I should thank Hipster Girl for giving me a jolt. But I face anxiety in some way just about every waking hour.

“Show no fear!”

Maybe I need to remember that voice. Maybe I need to tell myself this over and over. Maybe if I do this long enough, I’ll actually believe it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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