retail and Anxiety

white and brown wooden tiles
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

A little different kind of post today. This weekend I experienced a light panic attack and as I talked through it with my partner after the fact, I’ve made a few realizations about myself and what triggers my anxiety.

So, I was in the grocery store with my toddler, and I was wearing a dress. On the way to the car, the wind blew my dress up, and I had to hold it down and push the basket at the same time. In this way, I lost the package of toilet paper off the bottom of the basket on the way through the parking lot. But I didn’t notice until I’d already strapped my child into his car seat. So, there’s way too much hassle to go back for it. And my dress. And I’m overwhelmed and ugh.

What made me overwhelmed? Well, I don’t like crowded places. I have always been claustrophobic and shopping sets it off. Especially on a Sunday when the store is busy and I have to use the large cart instead of the small one. I feel like I take up too much space and I’m always in the way. And here comes one of my first revelations. This stems from working in retail because when I’m at work, I try my best to be out of the way of the customers. I’ve been in retail for nearly twelve years now so that has really been pounded into my brain and my habits to get out of customers’ way.

Another thing that stressed me out during my shopping trip was having the tiny tot with me. He was born in 2019, right before the pandemic hit. So, the only experience I have with shopping with him is when he was super tiny and in a car seat still. And then I discovered the wonderful thing called grocery pickup and stopped doing big trips. I have only taken him into the store for short trips for one or two items until now. So, the stress came from handling a rambunctious toddler while getting more than the usual amount of groceries. I needed to keep my eyes on him and at least one hand on the cart at all times because in the back of brain I’m constantly worrying that someone is going to take him. Or he’s going to climb out of the basket (the little rascal) or worse, fall out. And so revelation number two is even though he’s three now, I still suffer from some “new mom” problems because of covid and grocery pick up.

Anyway. It feels better getting that out of my head. And I’m going to say this for myself as well as anyone who might suffer from similar anxiety – you are allowed to take up space. You deserve to be here just as much as anyone else. Say it a few times until you believe it. Write it down and stick it over your mirror. But don’t feel the need to be small. Be big. Take up that space.


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