1. Holding your breath. This is an easy one. When you’re saying your goodbyes, or hellos, or he leaves your room in the morning with that smile, and you share a final kiss, and then a final, final kiss, and he gives you that look, just hold your breath for ten seconds, wait for the door to close after him and exhale.
2. Holding objects in your pocket really tightly. When you’re walking down the street together and you feel words like magic and youth slipping off your tongue, or when you feel light like the pavement is helping you float with each step, and you look at him like he was sent from a different planet, and maybe he was because of all those galaxies he holds in his eyes (don’t ever say those things aloud, by the way), just grab that book of matches in your pocket until you feel their sparks on your fingernails, and then exhale. If there’s nothing in your pocket, there’s bound to be lint. If you don’t have pockets, hold on to the edge of your skirt. In a worst-case scenario, take a pause and hold on to a streetlight, and let it pass.
3. Remaining silent for a long time, even if it becomes uncomfortable. This is another seemingly effortless one. Just keep quiet and remain calm, and if he asks you if you’re all right, tell him that you’re just holding your breath, and that it will pass, just one more minute or so. Then exhale slowly. He might think you have anxiety problems but it’s okay, at least those words are still safe in your throat. Trust me on this, you don’t want to know what happens if they escape. Keep them safe in there.
4. Confessing to strangers on public transit. When you’re riding the subway and an old man sits next to you, and you begin to wonder for a minute what he might look like when he’s that old, and you start to feel those words scratching in your throat again, take the old man’s hand, look deep into his eyes and tell him everything. You might make the old man’s day, unless he’s a crazy old man, in which case, you should probably get off the train quickly. But whew, you’ll feel so much better.
5. Exploring job opportunities that are far away from your current home. This may not prove to be the safe one, but it’s quite effective. There are many options out there that will allow you to have a very unstable and dangerous job, like reporting out of combat zones, developmental work in Africa, or researching in the Arctic Circle. No one really wants those jobs, so they’re always up for grabs, and are available almost as soon as you apply. What a deal! You could be on your way to exploring the world, backpack on and books in tow in mere weeks. You wouldn’t have to hold your breath or remain silent or talk to strangers ever again.
6. Staying inside, ignoring your phone and drinking whiskey. By this point you would have proven yourself to be a pretty unstable, anxiety-riddled young lady who talks to strange old men on the subway. It’s probably a good idea to stay home and think about some things. Mostly you should feel proud that you kept those words safe, like little birds warm in their nest. You should get some sleep now. The next few months will be really difficult, but you’ll get through them. Know that you are stronger now, having defended the things that matter most, you lucky girl.
You should follow Thought Catalog on Google+ here.