It was the night before the final Praxis block – this time, rather than a study intensive, it was a retreat, a chance to chill out, hang out and make goodbyes for the year. Everyone seemed to be looking forward to it… but me.
I only spent one night at the last block course. At home I was catching up on wedding stuff. That one night I just spent hanging out with the guys. The night rolled into early morning and I bunked in their cabin, successfully avoiding that one thing I dread most particularly about camps. And this was the realisation I came to, the night before the retreat: I feel anxious, almost phobic, about sharing a cabin with girls!
As a kid I always preferred to run with the boys. Girls are complicated creatures and I had enough social anxiety as it was. Boys are simpler to interact with. They play sports, make dirty jokes, do dumb things because someone dared them. Often enough, they don’t care if a girl wants to sit in with them.
Still, that wasn’t the whole answer. I prefer to hang with the guys, but it’s the prospect of sharing a cabin with other girls that really makes me freak out. I mused on this a while, and a memory floated into my head and seemed to explain it all.
At the grand old age of 10 I went off on a church camp. Of course, I was sharing a cabin with girls. I didn’t know them as it wasn’t my regular church – my youngest uncle was leading and must have organised it for me. The first night of camp, we watched 10 things I hate about you. It got to a particular scene where on of the characters holds up a pair of ladies black underwear, and explains that it is a sign that the owner of the underwear wants to have sex.
I was mortified. As it turns out, I was wearing black underwear! How could I not have realised that the colour of my jocks were actually making a statement about my readiness for sex? The idea that someone might see that I was wearing these black underwear and make the connection with the movie was unbearable. In order that this should never happen, I refused to part with them over the three days of the camp. I didn’t shower or change my undies the whole time.
The memory faded into inconsequence, but the anxiety lingered and grew. Every camp that came up, every block week, I felt angry and railed against he whole idea. I didn’t mind the activities and such, but never realised I had this crippling anxiety which was coming out as anger.
Some people say not to worry about the past at all, but sometimes you need to remember what it was that started off a certain behaviour. Fighting an unseen enemy is hard, but when you can uncover it, often it’s really not as bad as the feeling it created would seem to suggest.
EDIT: Just realised that I am actually at the same campsite I was at as a kid!! Mind. Blown.