Article by Laura Harby, artwork by Cris Hogarth

I have been making a conscious point lately of diving headfirst into the new.

I am an anxious person. Anxiety has always been there for me. A cold web spreading under my skin, wrapping itself around my thoughts, its icy fingers gripping my brain, knocking my heart around inside my chest. One of the hardest things to deal with (for me, as anxiety is a wholly different animal for each of us) is anything new. Any change, any something new, something uncharted, is a cause for panic. An all-systems alarm goes off no matter how small or seemingly insignificant the experience is: a new haircut, new projects at work, ordering a new dish at a restaurant. Public speaking engagements cause sleepless nights, upset stomachs and cyclical destructive thoughts that seem to consume every aspect of daily life. Even going through an unfamiliar drive-thru makes my heart leap and palms sweat.

Newness is the unknown. It’s a terrifying leap into, “anything and everything could go wrong!” so it is understandably difficult to talk myself into taking that dive. Trying new things, eating new foods, learning new crafts, going to new-to-me places, meeting new people (this is, admittedly, what I’m worst at) are at once exhilarating and unquestionably scary. There’s a great wide world of new out there; never ending newness.

The new is a scary thing, to be sure. But what’s the alternative? No new’s at all? Just in the past year, it seems like my whole life switched from a comfortable, no surprises routine to complete upheaval. New job, new car, new house, new responsibilities, new worries, new adventures. It seemed everything before me was strange, uncharted territory and any choice I made could potentially end in ruin.

But, anxiety is a funny creature. Sometimes it can hold you down, strap you into your own body and pin you against your spine, whispering in your ear, “don’t move, don’t make a sound or everything around you will break into a million tiny fractured shards of what your life once was.” Other times? It makes it impossible to stay still. Maybe it’s a touch of mania that peeks through an anxious depressive funk, but it’s that one moment the cold web lets loose its grip ever so slightly, gives you just enough slack that your feet move, your brain lets go a shout of “fuck you, fear!” and you dive straight into the new.

Laura can be found at home hiding from the doorbell. She knits endlessly (@thirdsistershop on IG) and co-runs webcomic

Cris Hogarth is an up and coming comic book illustrator. Follow them on Twitter, @MsElectricFlame.