New situations can send people into a state of nervousness, others in a state of anxiety. It isn’t uncommon for people to feel either, but its severity may be the deciding factor for later reactions. Some people may be ready to accept new challenges despite their struggle, but other people may reach a point of possibly facing a breakdown. One particular experience for me was trying to order a Subway sandwich before I was diagnosed with anxiety.
Subway was something I wanted to have in over a long time. The first time I had a sandwich was in high school when the 12th grade students had to fundraise for their ski trip. After that, I never had it again. I knew my mother had, but enough years passed and she doesn’t recall how to do it. There are so many commercials about Subway on television that I felt compelled and enticed to finally try and buy my own sandwich.
The first time I tried to order Subway was at the mall with my mother; it didn’t happen. As soon as we saw the Subway unit in the food court, saw the menu, and saw the options, we quickly walked away and had Chinese food, instead. It occurred to me as we stood there, looking at the menu, at the veggies, cheese, and bread, that I was really nervous about the ordering process. I tried to hear someone make their order, but in a food court during the busy lunch hours, it was near to impossible. Then, my body grew cold the longer I thought about it, and soon I was on the verge of possibly having a breakdown. The sight and thought of ordering something with a complex appearing procedure began to scare me. So, I told myself that I would ask my friends and figure out how to order a sandwich, so I could mentally prepare myself for it.
Well, the moment I returned home and found no one available to talk about what happened, I searched online for tips. The first result was the online ordering link for Subway. When I clicked it, I felt like my life was saved in a way. Why would I need to get in a long line, completely anxious, when I could pre-order a sandwich, pay with PayPal or what not, and simply pick it up? Everything was simply laid out and I could adjust everything as needed. When I spoke to my friends, and those who worked at Subway, they insisted I learn how to order in person.
The first thing I learned was that everyone literally told me the way to order Subway was exactly the way you would order it online. You start with the bread, pick a meat, pick the cheese, if you want it toasted, your veggies, sauces, any other seasonings, and whether or not you want to make it a meal. I was still very hung up on the idea of the menu, that it didn’t occur to me that ordering was so simple. The order can vary at the beginning depending on the artist: I would like x-sandwich on an x-long x-bread, or I would like x-long x-bread for x-sandwich, but down the line everything is standard. It threw me off because I’ve only had major chain fast food and there aren’t that many choices to make. Suddenly, I had every choice to make. I figured after all the pep talks, where nothing new came up, I could finally buy a sandwich the next time I was near a Subway.
It didn’t work out as planned. I literally came upon the same situation as the previous time; my mother and I stepped away from the same unit to the same table because my nerves were getting the best of me. I could feel my heart pound relentlessly while my hands were starting to shake. I pulled out my phone and quickly ordered online as I previously learned when I searched for ordering tips. I did it as fast as I could and stalled from telling my mother because I knew she wouldn’t understand my inability to order in person. Fifteen minutes would pass until I could pick up my order. I continued to do this a few more times until I received coupons in the mail.
The time had finally come where I couldn’t simply run away. I tried to find a way to apply the coupon online, but it wasn’t at all possible. I had to find a way to calm myself and do it, but I still couldn’t find the courage and ability, so I stopped trying. During this time, I had been seeing a doctor about my anxiety and found out my adverse reaction to ordering in person was actually a panic attack. I never knew how to describe it, but as soon as I saw a doctor he explained to me that my cold feeling, shivering and shaking was a panic attack. When I was formally diagnosed with anxiety, I was given medication to treat it. I felt able to do things without constantly being on the verge of an attack. So, it was time to finally do what I needed to do.
I stepped into the long lunch line at the same Subway unit in the same mall with my mother sitting at our usual table. I played with my fingers, played with the coupon, and tried to listen to how everyone before me ordered. As usual, I could only hear so much because of how busy and loud the food court was. I only knew what my friends had said, “Just do everything as you did on the website and how you’ve been told, and everything will be okay. They’ll ask you questions if you’re not sure about anything.”. As soon as the person before me stated his order, it made me freeze. He literally rapped out his order in such a flurry that it made me wonder if the sandwich artist even understood a word he said. Then, it was my turn.
As far as I knew, no one has ever perfected their first order before. Yes, you go up there, follow the instructions, or mentally prepare yourself (as I’ve done) for the process, but no one goes up there knowing exactly what they’re doing. You simply hope that you don’t look like a fool should you ask an odd question because you are new. Hopefully, the artist that day kindly asks you questions, or you’re hoping they are kind enough to not mind a new customer.
When I was looking at the artist, my heart raced and my mind blanked out as I presented my coupon to him: order one foot long and drink, and get a second foot long for $0.99. I tried to do what the person before me did, but my rap turned into a stuttered mess.
“I would like uh-a sweet onion chicken t-teriyaki on Italian and herbs—Italian herbs and cheese, a-and… roast beef o-on herbs—Italian herbs and cheese.”
A simple order of sweet onion chicken teriyaki and roast beef on Italian herbs and cheese became a mess. When I think about it now, I shake my head because I had to order something with long names.
When I moved onto the next artist, we were choosing cheeses, but there weren’t any stickers naming what cheese was present. No one explained what was available, so I realized that I had to ask, but it felt so… awkward. Fortunately, the artists were kind and everything moved along without further incident. It was even better when the man handling the cash register gave me my order, and gave me a thumb up, wishing me a great day.
It was such a relief to get it over with. I returned to where my mother sat, placed the sandwiches on top, and simply collapsed in my seat. I was shivering slightly, breathing a little heavy, and willing my heart to calm down, but I felt accomplished. I was glad my anxiety medication had worked on most of my reaction, but I still struggled. It was still up to me to stand up and just make the order. As soon as I calmed down, I felt so good inside having finally done it. Eating the sandwich felt like such a sweet victory because I knew I would be able to do it again in the future, regardless of what occurs.
So many things occurred in this story. It was a conflict of self; trying to understand myself and my anxiety, and finding a way to deal with it. It was a study of self; finding the courage to understand and address my issues, while also finding the courage to step out of my comfort zone after encouragement and practice. It was a definitive success fueled by the encouragement of friends because without them I wouldn’t have known what to do and how to deal with any of this.
I know not everyone will be able to overcome their struggles like I have, even in this kind of situation. There may be different factors that may make them unable to buy a Subway sandwich. The idea is that you can ask for help, and you should know yourself so you don’t push and pressure yourself into a situation that could hurt you in the long run. You should keep the sandwich toasted and not yourself.