New experiences NEW ME!
WOMAN - UK|May 18, 2021
After years of missing out, Paula McGuire was determined to make up for lost time
KIM WILLIS

Every happy memory you might have of your childhood, I can almost guarantee I do not share. I spent my childhood opting out and hiding away. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had terrible anxiety – new experiences frightened me and, even as a young adult, I was so anxious, I couldn’t face a first dance when I married Gerry, now 38, in 2009. Even in my job as a support worker, things like speaking to new people frightened me.

When I turned 30 in 2011, I started having phobia therapy, which helped me overcome my fears. But I realised how much I’d missed out on. So I set myself a challenge to try a new thing every day throughout 2020. Here are just a few of my favourite adventures.

My Adventure badge

As 2020 began, I tried dog sledding, grooming a Highland cow, plus taking part in a taekwondo class and a quidditch match, so the year got offto a fine start. I remember my sister going to Brownies as a child. Now, the local Brownie group invited me to make my Brownie Promise and earn my Adventure badge.

When the children in the group asked why I’d never been a Brownie, I told them that I’d been really scared to try new things in case I did something wrong or people didn’t like me. They were so understanding, and I felt sad that my childhood self missed out on friends like these.

Giving blood

I don’t have a needle phobia, but it was never the needles holding me back from donating blood, it was social anxiety – I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say to the nurses or how to make small talk. As a registered organ donor, I felt bad that I hadn’t given blood. Signing up in January, the nurses were welcoming and I felt buoyant afterwards. It won’t be my last time.

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