The lump lodges in my throat as we turn down the wrong street for the path I was hoping to be on. As the realization dawns on me, the breathe I was trying to catch from running for the bus seems impossible to catch now. I press the buzzer and make my way to the back exit. My fingers begin to vibrate as we wait at the light. Hoping for a miracle, or perhaps a silver lining, I approach the front and ask the driver to let me out here. We're in the middle of the intersection, and so - as I suspected - he refuses, but points out that the bus stop is only across the street. Subconsciously, I know that getting back to this spot will seem to take an eternity, and reluctantly drag my feet back to the back exit, defeated.
Ten minutes later, I have made it through one of the worst intersections of this entire city, and the lump has doubled in size. Of all the people I am late for, this makes me the most upset. This morning, I worried about my tardiness only because I was trying to make a second good first impression for my employer. She didn't even bat an eye that I was late. This afternoon, my friend was as early as I was late, and we shared a good chuckle at the situation. But this time being late has sent me into a full-fledged panic attack.
I recognize it for what it is by the time I come across two middle-aged women ahead of me on the sidewalk. Tears begin to well in my eyes as ridiculous thoughts race through my mind and my blood is fuelled with dirty, ugly emotions. I am embarassed. I can't let these women notice what is happening inside. Although this has happened before, I'm stronger now. Why on earth am I letting the irrational thoughts take over again? Why can't I control it? Why can't I get rid of this ridiculous lump?
My breathing remains choppy as I climb onto the next bus. I know this one is going in the right direction as I've now walked to the correct street. My hands shake as I reach for my phone. I send out a text - a warning of my now ridiculed disregard for time. I tried this time, though. I tried so hard this day. It's just who I am, and I'm okay with being this way. I prefer being this way. You can't rush genius. You can't schedule inspiration. Feeling the shame, I become even more distraught.
The text conversation continues. I begin to explain my situation. The lump sinks back down, allowing more rational air to get to my lungs. We begin to cancel our arrangement. Although relieved, I'm still filled with the guilt. I feel like I've let her down. I feel like I let them all down. I feel like I've let myself down. The lump creaps back into the back of my mouth. Tears begin to stream down my face. I wipe them away and wish the sun weren't setting. It would be better to hide these reddened eyes behind some sunglasses or even the disguise of night. What a terrible time to be caught outdoors in tears.
Eventually, I am calm. Wisdom has been provided to me and I feel more at peace. I guess I just needed to have a good cry. I didn't think I was that stressed out, but it's always hard to recognize stress when it comes from doing too little rather than doing too much. So much time is spent in my own head, I'm glad I have friends that can take me out of that space. Somebody who's been there; who knows exactly how you feel; and know what you need to hear to find your centre again. The world needs more people like that: more people who give simply to make the world a better place.