Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twinges of Panic

I looked around at the bright blue sky, nary a cloud in sight, as several of us paused after stepping from our cars. Alarms blared from speakers mounted on our modest building and we glanced at each other, eyes shaded by sunglasses or squinted against the bright light, and listened dubiously at the extreme weather warning that demanded we seek shelter immediately.

"Good morning," I chirped at one of our security guards and he grinned at me, indicating he thought it was a drill before motioning to the beautiful day outside the glass doors. I smiled back at him, shuffling along in the chattering stream of engineers and managers, all of us heading downstairs.

Once herded into windowless hallways and labs, we milled about. Some people had grabbed cups of coffee on their way. Others, like me, had arrived late and carried bags. We removed our laptops and found chairs, beginning to work as we were safely tucked away. I began to get oddly nervous, finally deciding it was more the crowd than the closed in space. While not a bit claustrophobic, I find myself uncomfortable around crowds. I was therefore relieved when the alarm changed tone and told us the threat had passed and we were free to resume our work.

I breathed easier once I emerged from the stairway, still immersed in a crush of bodies as we all moved along a fairly narrow path. It wasn't the crowd that unnerved me, I realized. It was the unknown. I didn't know the purpose of the drill or how long we'd be kept in the shelter areas and while it seemed silly at first, I grew increasingly twitchy as alarms sounded and offered repetitive warnings without any real information.

I checked my voice mail this morning, moving rapidly through people who needed me for work purposes, but pausing when I heard my doctor's voice. "Nothing scary," she assured, "but we need to talk about what's next." She was out today and I'm traveling for the near future so I'm left feeling tense. I want to know and formulate some plan - trips to Europe and Asia have been been left unplanned since I don't know what I'll need to have taken out of my pelvis this summer. Ignorance, in this case, is far more stressful than blissful.

I'll admit to a preening thrill over this upcoming talk. I rarely get to pretend I'm a Big Deal and this is a rather nifty opportunity. When hearing there would be announcements for the presentations, I reminded myself to snag one so I could put it up in my office. Simultaneously, I realize it's my first appearance at this particular conference. So standing up to give a major presentation is hardly the perfect way to start. I prefer to observe and process, develop strategies based on what seemed to work and flop.

Not knowing is scary. But we already knew that.


Jenn, PhD said...

"nothing scary" - that's good news! I know it's impossible, but try not to worry and just take it day by day for the next little while. Thinking of you

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

The unknown is hard because it's hard to plan for (at least that what my old therapist told me a while ago). It's so true. But "nothing scary" sounds like good news. I'm sending good thoughts your way for your talk!

Psych Post Doc said...

Nothing Scary sounds great. Safe travels and good luck with the talk, sounds exciting!

Post a Comment