To be clear: I am a self-defined coward. In almost all areas of my life, I am in some form of constant terror. While my baby brother finds this amusing, and my childhood best friend finds it infuriating, it's been such a reliable presence in my life that I have even developed a tendency to freak out when I don't feel it. Needless to say, whenever I see a memoir that mentions Anxiety with a capital "A" in the blurb, it winds up in my hands.
Okay, Fine, Whatever, by Courtenay Hameister is a memoir of Anxiety, chronicling her attempts at breaking through the stress of daily life, by embracing stress in its more exaggerated forms, too. (It's one thing to get over an instance of stage fright, but quite another to visit a professional cuddler, you know?)
Of course I was immediately drawn to Hameister's story, of trying new things and working through fear over the course of a year. However, the trap of being compelled to pick up a memoir of someone you think is very much like you, is that you inevitably get turned off when, eventually, they reveal themselves to not be like you at all.
Hameister portrays this memoir as one oriented around trying new things, and she does: from an isolation tank to water aerobics, to getting high, and getting an MRI, she attempts quite a few new experiences, most of which would spook most people.
The difficulty comes when the majority of them seem to fall into one specific category: Romance. She attempts online dating in three different chapters - chronicling several failed dates within each - and some of her other exploits include doomed romances within the polyamorous spectrum, explorations with public sex, and an instructional fellatio class. Even some of her tamer excursions still find ways to relate to intimacy or sexuality, like getting a Brazilian wax, and visiting the aforementioned professional cuddler.
At times, it felt like the book wanted to tell two different stories, one of Hameister's mental health and working through her anxiety, and the other of her romantic history, as a sort of "getting her groove back" memoir.
In some ways, Hameister does a good job at communicating how her Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects her life; especially in the form of her "stress balls," which weigh in her stomach and balloon small issues into greater ones, like with worries over her career and health. And I did relate to some of her candid accounts of her romantic history... it was just at all the stops after that, she totally lost me.
(Also, side note: she is INCREDIBLY funny, which made the book a little easier to read, too.)
In conclusion: I didn't love the book so much as the idea behind it, and I couldn't stop thinking about how much more I'd enjoy it if it was someone a little more relatable, or if her journey was made a little more clear.
What is something brave or new you've tried recently? Have you read any other memoirs about anxiety? Let me know, in the comments below!