Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to buy the things

Decisions are hard.  All of them.

Should I go back to schoolShould I think about changing careers

Should I buy milk? 

Should I go to the bathroom right now, or wait for the break? (Because I kinda-really have to go.  But what if I miss something important and miss writing it in the minutes?  I’ll get fired and have to think about going back to school or changing careers while drinking or not drinking milk…)

I have a special place in my heart for decisions that have to do with me spending any amount of money – a corner shared by activities like “asking for help from a sales clerk” and “actually going inside a bank instead of using an ATM.”   Recently, I made a fairly large purchase and had the opportunity to examine the process I go through when deciding to spend money.

I started by thinking about how the non-anxious person does their shopping.  To be clear, I’m not talking about angst-filled decisions here.  This is a cycle for purchases within one’s means that are clearly going to fill a need or a want.  Everything from tooth-paste to lap-tops.  I thought it might look something like this:

01 Buy the things Basic Cycle

There is some amount of debate for anyone, but the process rolls along and comes to the logical conclusion of “buying the thing.”

The purchasing cycle gets complicated for me, due to the introduction of the perfect panic decision loop:

02 Buy the things ME

You’ll note that steps 3 and 4  are ignored completely.  That’s because I’m stuck in the tumble dryer that is Step 2.  I tend to be convinced that every decision will determine whether I am a mature adult with money in the bank or just some penniless fool who is a slave to short term consumer desires.

But there are times where the clouds seem to part, and some miracle allows me to take a deep breath and Decide to Buy the Thing.  In those cases, I have to act quickly or risk getting pulled back into the loop.

03 Buy the things NOW

A purchase is made!

But it’s the thought of this next scenario that usually keeps me spinning in Stage 2.

04 Buy the things nightmare

NO!  NO RETURNING THE THING!  SOCIAL ANXIETY MAKES NO TALK TO CUSTOMER SERVICES! You know what?   I love the thing.  It doesn’t work.  But I love it.  I don’t need to return it.  This has taught me a life lesson, so it’s totally worth the $300 I spent on a Chromebook that I can’t hook up to my printer.  *BARF*

So, the next time you’re in the grocery store and see someone picking a tub of margarine out of the cooler, putting it in their cart, walking a few steps, stopping, backing up, putting the margarine back in the cooler, walking a few steps, stopping, looking back at the margarine… it might be me.

The Nervous Nelly

Welcome to Perfect Panic!  

You should read this blog if you are


  • someone who enjoys laughing at the misfortune of others.  Don’t worry… it’s okay to admit it.  If it weren’t for people like you, the Meet the Parents franchise would have flopped and there wouldn’t be so many videos like this on the internet. Or pictures like this one:

*My anxiety requires me to apologize in advance to any nice people who may have been offended by the above picture.

So you’re going to keep reading?  Great!

To up your reading pleasure, first watch some of this video of David Attenborough talking about the Elephant Shrew (Sengi).  Now imagine that Sir Attenborough is narrating this post.


“The domesticated Nervous Nelly is characterized by its anxious behaviours.  If we were to insert a camera into its burrow, we might witness a scene rather like this one:

An adult female sits in a nest of blankets, engaged in typing behaviour on a laptop.  She’s been writing and re-writing the same email for about 25 minutes.  It will probably be another 10 minutes before she actually sends it, after which she will immediately regret not spending just a little more time proofreading.

The cell phone on a nearby table suddenly rings, and the subject begins ritual hyperventilation; she really needs to choose a ringtone that doesn’t make her feel quite so anxious.

Surprisingly, the Nelly doesn’t react by answering the call.  Instead, she picks up the phone and places one finger over the speaker, muffling the noise.


Her keen eyes study the display, shifting back and forth between ‘Decline’ and ‘Answer’.

Really, there’s no way that she’s going to decline the call; that’s rude.

But answering the call is equally out of the question, because that would mean talking to a real human, and Nellies need more mental preparation for that sort of thing.  

She’ll just let it go to voice-mail.  But wait… Did she remember to change the greeting after she got back from vacation? She’s sure she did.  Or did she?  She totally did.  But if she didn’t… the caller is going to be very confused.  Drat.  Maybe she should answer-

The phone stops ringing, and  the voice-mail icon soon appears on the screen. As the sun sets in the west, the Nervous Nelly sets the phone aside and plans to listen to the message when it doesn’t seem quite so terrifying.”


In case you hadn’t guessed, the Nervous Nelly is ME.  *gasp!*

It is fairly typical for me to deal with calls to my cell phone exactly as Mr Attenborough described.   It’s a problem.  But I’m working on it…

Fun fact:  I spent about 3 hours* editing and obsessing over this post after it was, for all intents and purposes, complete.   I had emotions.  

*low estimate

Expect more posts filled with angst and hilarity.  Not all of my posts will be narrated by the great Attenborough, though – that was a special treat.