The Fun Kind of Dread?

A reoccurring patten in my thinking: As I’m embarking on some fun activity that incongruously but predictably evokes feelings of dread, I remember reading (long ago, when I single) about how sometimes women date men they think they are attracted to, when really they are fearful of them, because they misattribute the similar physical symptoms (butterflies in the stomach etc). I just Googled it — it’s probably “misattribution of arousal“.

After I remember that, I wonder, Does it go the other way?

This thought pattern occurs pretty much every time I walk out the door to drive to a pitch meeting or a fancy party with a familiar pressure inside my sternum, like a hand around my heart, squeezing into a fist (I’ve heard this description used for heart attacks, but this doesn’t feel like a heart attack… or does it?) I wonder Am I actually fearful, anxious and dreading, or am I actually excited, but confused because excitement feels a lot like fear and anxiety?

There must be some nuance of feeling that I’m not quite sensing, between the feeling of dread when staring down two gallons of colonoscopy prep, or going to the hospital for something unpleasant and the the feeling that accompanies something I want to do — or at least that I wanted to do at some point in the past when I made the plan. During the thing, I will enjoy parts of it, and after the thing, I will avow that I am glad I did the thing (setting aside the post-event feeling combo of “I had fun” with “afterburn of shame” for another post.)

All this is basically elaborating on the same theme as when I wrote about feeling compelled to do things that terrify me a couple months ago. (No surprise. As I mentioned, it’s a pattern.) Since then, I have moved through the list items I laid out in that post: I shot a short film, started a Substack newsletter, and enrolled in the class about pitching freelance articles to publications. Because I tried to do the class, impossibly, in conjunction with the other two things (plus work and life) today I need to do a lot of catching up. My assignments include writing things and sending actual pitches for articles to actual editors of publications, which, when I planned today, these didn’t seem like a big deal, but now that it is today, I’m having this familiar conversation with myself because I’m feeling those familiar feelings. Dread. Or excitement! One or the other!

Either way, it’s on my calendar, so now I’ve got to do it.

It’s a weird way to go through life though, isn’t it?

(PS: Two things writing this post makes me want to think / write about at a later date: 1) Calendaring Creativity (pros and cons, creativity vs creating. 2) How much I despise the word “excited.” Because the world, or because me? Discuss!)