How to Overthink a Bus Ride

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash.

I haven’t asked – but my mind likes to askew my thinking into presuming no one on the bus wants to talk or look at me. And in turn – I don’t talk or look at anyone. What if I freeze up? What if they don’t find me interesting? What if my mental illness scares them away?

Ted Talk speaker Donovan Taplin approached the idea of ‘secret files.’ Things that are kept secret from others, and outside of our daily thoughts, because of the stigma that surrounds these things – stigma can involve discrimination or could be thought of as a stain on someone’s reputation. Mental illness is often locked away as one of these ‘secret files’ hidden by people. This is because stigma is associated with a lesser ability to do things, instability, and inconsistency. That’s silly.

Mental health is influenced by many things: social capital, financial stability, romantic expression, academic achievement, physical composition of the brain. These are just some. Our mind is the sum of all the interactions our brain has via the body we navigate the world with – and so it is vastly more complicated than a few stereotypes. Heath, like the mind, is not itself a thing. Health is when all of our body parts and organs are working in an efficient and ‘proper’ way therefore we are healthy.

The philosopher Robert Gyle once said “Only our bodies ever meet.” That is to say – our minds only interact with each other through our bodies – but not directly. Being able to communicate with another person is therefore absolutely important to express yourself. Express when you are anxious. Otherwise it might be interpreted as disinterest – for example.

And so, we must educate ourselves. Self-reflect on your mentality of the world. As the Trent University motto suggests – “challenge the way you think.”

Talk to someone outside your friend group. Anyone. The person sitting across from you. You will be surprised how much humans have in common – as opposed to what we place between us.

I have had an anxiety disorder for a decade. If you want to know more please ask me around campus. However, more often than not when confronted with an idea that does not align with what we already believe to be true in the world we label it as false. Every topic has variability and so it is important to understand your own level of knowledge on any given topic. Learn to say ‘I don’t know’ if you really don’t – that is incentive to learn more about that thing.

Anxiety can take many forms. Maybe it is worrying about making too much eye contact with someone. Not breathing too loud. Making sure your hair looks nice. It could be worrying that everyone in the class has a higher grade than you. Or that people don’t like you because they didn’t acknowledge you while they passed you on the bus.

Sometimes it can be easier to be in our own world – and care for oneself is good even if it involves time alone. I also think egocentrism is limiting. It is humbling to look at the bigger picture – because the world is so much bigger than one event, or one person, or one campus.

And so here we are on the bus. Overthinking.