To achieve going to not one Pearl Jam show in a crowded arena, but making it to three Pearl Jam shows in one week. To show yourself you can do it. To show yourself you can survive in big crowds again. To rekindle your love of going to live concerts. To enjoy the people you are with. To have fun. To conquer this latest bout of depression and anxiety.
This is your mission if you choose to accept.
So how am I going to achieve all of this? There is a lot here and a lot going on. I feel overwhelmed with the task at hand. For me to be successful at achieving this short term goal, I must develop a plan.
I talked about my trip out to New Jersey in my last blog. I was traveling out there to see my oldest and best friend. We went to a Pearl Jam Concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. I made it through that concert, but it was really close to not happening.
The last couple of weeks leading up to my trip out east, I found myself in a dark place. I was feeling extremely depressed and also my anxiety wasn’t playing nicely either. If there was a negative thought to have, my brain was throwing it at me. You’re fat. You’re lazy. You’re not good at your job. You’re wife deserves to be with someone who isn’t laying in bed all of the time. No one cares. People are talking negatively about everything I do. And on it goes.
Hopelessness set in. This is when the scariest thoughts come to be. The ones that tell you that everyone is better off without you. The one that tells you you’re a burden to others. The one that is very convincing when it begins to tell you maybe you should just end it all.
Extremely scary stuff.
All of this had me nervous to travel out east. I almost canceled the trip as I felt horrible and I didn’t want to infect another household with the way I was feeling. I thought really hard about not going out there. I almost gave up on this trip without even trying even a little bit of the journey.
The small amount of clearness I had left kept telling me, “but you have stuff to do”. “You will regret not trying”. “Maybe this trip is exactly what you need right at this very moment in your life”.
I had to try.
On my mind was not only this trip, but after this I was going to be traveling to Nashville and then to Saint Louis for two more Pearl Jam shows. New Jersey/New York City (Sunday), Nashville (Friday), and then Saint Louis (Sunday) all together seemed like an impossible task. It seemed like a ton of work. I exhausted myself just thinking about it.
At the start, I wasn’t even sure I could get on the plane to knock one journey off the list, let alone seeing two more concerts within a weeks time.
I had to try. This is the love I have for live music and also seeing my favorite band in some really cool places.
How can I make this happen?
My short term goal was to make it to all three shows. The only way I could see myself being successful is breaking this all down into smaller increments.
Get on the plane you are trying to talk yourself out of. Get to the first layover in Chicago. Get on the next plane. Land in New Jersey. Find my friend who was picking me up. Drive together to his house. Spend time at his house hanging out with my buddy and his family. Go to sleep.
Stuff like this. I tried to break every bit of my trip down into smaller increments. These small increments, when looked at by themselves, seem way more doable than looking at the whole picture. Next week will come. The next two trips will come. I really tried not to think about everything else. I tried to focus on each step to get to my goal and accomplish the mission laid out before me.
My trip out east was a success! It wasn’t easy at times. My nerves were really jumping when we boarded the train into the city for the concert. Once in the city, all the noises hit me. I had to remember to take some deep breathes and keep going. We got to the arena and walked in. People everywhere. You can do this. You want to do this. The music will start soon and you can try and lose yourself in it. I just have to hold on a little bit longer.
I made it! The show was amazing. We had a great time. I flew home on Tuesday. I had a sense of accomplishment. I was still in and out of the darkness, but I am proud of myself for making it through what just days before seemed like an impossible task.
But wait…there’s more.
I got back on Tuesday. I worked for a couple of days and then Nashville was upon me.
Remember, Jason, increments.
This Pearl Jam trip was with my wife. She really wanted to go to Nashville as she has never been there. We ended up driving. It was a six-ish hour drive.
Drive and stop as needed. Only focus on the drive at this time. The rest will be waiting for you. Get to the hotel. Grab a bite to eat. Get ready for the concert. Go to the concert. Afterwards, walk back to the hotel.
The increments went pretty much like this.
It’s always a couple of hours before leaving the hotel that everything likes to hit me. I was nervous again. Almost like it was my first time braving a crowd, but wait a minute…you just did this a matter of a couple days ago. You can do it again. Also it must be noted, we didn’t have seats for this show. We were standing in the GA pit section in front of the stage. This helped my nerves. I knew I wouldn’t be smashed into the middle of a row of seats with what feels like no escape. We could position ourselves on the floor with a clear escape built in. We stood towards the back on the edge of the pit by a side rail. We even had a garbage can blocking our backs so we wouldn’t get smashed in at any point. It really was the perfect setup for someone who doesn’t care for large crowds, but is still in a large crowd.
My wife and I had a great time. She loves to dance and had plenty of room to throw some moves down. I’m more of a stand in place move my legs and head sort of dancer. Basically, I don’t dance. Date night in Nashville was a success.
We stayed an extra day in Nashville. I must admit. I was exhausted from the night before. Breaking these goals into increments is the way to go, but it still takes a lot of energy and effort doing the crowd thing. I pretty much laid in bed the next day. My wife went exploring and I didn’t go. So much of where we were in Nashville was bars bars and more bars. Not my thing anymore, but my wife wanted to check a few out. You gotta hit up a honkey tonk when in Nashville.
I felt really bad that I didn’t go with her. The night before I was set to go with her, but then Saturday hit and it was the last thing I wanted to do. The exhaustion from the effort the night before left me feeling like my guard wasn’t as strong, so I protected myself and stayed in. I should have gone with. I will get there. All of this will help me get there.
Sunday, we headed to St. Louis for the final show. My wife didn’t go to this one. I was joining some friends and one of them is my main Pearl Jam going to brother. We have been to a bunch of shows together and he understands where I was at during this rough time I was trying to pull myself out of.
Again, I had to not worry about the show and break this next journey into increments. So I did.
We drove to St. Louis. Stopped along the way as you tend to do when traveling. We arrived in St. Louis and checked into the hotel. My buddies were already in town and were about too head over to the arena. We never really talked about a meeting time so I found myself rushing to get to my room and then I headed out for the show.
This opened up some new worries about the night. I didn’t feel like I had enough time to prepare myself. What is going to happen if I am not properly prepared? Well, thankfully nothing happened. It might have been a blessing to rush getting to the arena and not have time to build anything up in my head. I basically had to jump before I was ready to jump and it ended up being what I needed for this night. We had a great time and my nerves didn’t seem to be as bad as the other two shows. I had to approach this show differently than the others.
We were on the floor again for this show. The difference from Nashville is there was no side rail marking the perimeter we had to be in. Instead the sides were marked with pink tape which outlined the aisle. And they made sure people stayed out of the aisle space. This was perfect! We were able to get closer to the stage than I’ve ever been before and I stood with my left foot touching the pink tape the whole night so I had an easy out if I needed one. This setup was maybe the most comfortable. The crowd was closer together where we were, but it seemed to only bother me for a short time. I kept looking at my left foot on the pink tape and telling myself “you got this”. “If you need to leave for any reason, here is your escape route”.
I did it! I beat my mission. I accomplished everything I hoped to, even though it certainly wasn’t easy at times. I was pushing back and for the first time in a long time I felt like I was winning. I was ready for some positive experiences. Enough with the negative. I pushed back. I made it through my fear of the large crowds not once, but three times. Whew! It was exhausting, but it was something I had to prove to myself that I could still do. I’m a music lover. I love to play the guitar and drums. I love to listen to music. I really love going and watching live music. I did it this time and I will do it again.
This whole experience has been a learning experience. I wanted to achieve my mission and accomplish my short term goal. I don’t think it would have gone as well if I didn’t break this short term goal into increments. By moving forward one increment at a time, I feel I have set myself up for another run at my long term goal which is being happy in my own skin again. Being happy with who I am and who and what I have become. A happy me can be more helpful to those around me. I really just want to live life and not feel like I am being tormented all of the time by my negative thoughts.
What are you working towards? Have you tried to break your short term goals into smaller increments to help you achieve these goals? We can’t keep trying to look so far ahead in our lives. I know it is easy to do, but we can’t get to step five without first getting through steps one and two. I believe by looking down at what and where we are currently in our journey and taking on what is directly in front of us will set us up for achieving our short term goals. It really puts us on the right course to achieve our long term goals which lie further down the path.
I got this! You got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this path together.
P.S. – these were all tickets I’ve been holding onto since before the pandemic. These shows were supposed to happen in early to mid 2020. I was much better with crowds before the pandemic.
Have a great day!
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