On Being Sketchy: Anxiety can suck it

When I was deep into the drug scene, there was a condition known as being sketchy which means, having a bunch of unwanted anxiety. Those who were sketchy were on the edge of sanity, always prepared for something, anything to pop off or go ballistic. It’s not a condition that one would want to experience because if you were in sketchy mode it usually meant that you ingested way too many drugs and it was time to go to sleep. What I have come to realize in my life is, I have always indeed sketchy.

Picture it, Columbus, Ohio, south east side, Driving Park area. I had to be about 22, living with my mother on Seymour ave. The hood. Mecca if you will. It was a Saturday morning going into the afternoon on a lovely fall day. Had to be about 65 degrees with sunshine and a cool breeze. I, being the ever so fly young adult was sitting in my room looking at my paycheck and decided to run to the barbershop down the way to get a hair cut. Little did I know that this particular trip to the barber would change my grooming habits forever.

I forego going to my normal barber on the corner, as the last time I was in there, one of the barbers had an altercation with a former client which ended with the barber bashing a guy in the face with a shovel. Gotta love black barber shops. They are the front porch and country club for all black men and drama does pop up every now and again something that I would come to miss in the future, due to what was about to happen to me once I finally sat down in a barbers chair.

gotta get that good edgeup.

I decided to go to the shop down the street from my house. It’s usually never busy due to there being 5 chairs instead of the 3 that were at my usual spot which means more barbers and less wait. I eat a bowl of corn flakes, wash my face and proceed out my backdoor to the corner of Livingston Ave and Miller ready to get a deep fade with a sharp edge up. I was making a trip to Detroit that night with friends to go check out a new house music venue and if I wanted to dance all night, I had to be fresh.

I walk into the shop and see that they are unusually busy for a Saturday. There were no chairs available. I take my seat to wait for the next barber to become free. After about 10 minutes, the barber of the middle chair points to me and says “hey brutha you next let me go finish my food.” I nod in agreement and sigh at the fact that this barber is fine ass all hell and probably straight as all get out as well. Such is life on the east side of Columbus.

After the barber, I think his name was Joe, finishes his food, he moseys back into the shop and takes his place back at the middle chair. I get up, take off my hoodie and sit down ready to get a good cut. This is when things go a little to the left.

Joe:Sup playa, what cho getting?

Me:Tight fade with a sharp edge up. Keep my mustache low with a defined taper.

Joe:Aww shit I like how you known exactly what you want

Me: Thanks

I shutter at the fact that I said thanks out of context and my hands start to sweat. I immediately feel cold but my body is shaking. My head begins to twitch, my body begins to feel weak and I start to get dizzy. This has happened before but I attributed it to not having enough to eat for the day instead of recognizing it for what it really was, an anxiety attack. My body feels as though it’s shutting down and I immediately begin shaking from head to toe as if I had been tasered or just hopped out of a cold shower.

Due to my head shaking and my whole body twitching, Joe the barber asks me am I okay to which my quick response was:

Me:Oh I’m fine a little embarrassed because I have mild epilepsy and something about the clippers is making me shake.

Joe:That’s alright bro that’s alright imma fade you up and we gonna get through it, don’t even worry about it.

I chuckle to myself because I just told the quickest lie I have every told in my life and also at the fact that the lady sitting in the chair across from me, waiting for the barber next to us to finish up on her sons hair, is giving me the most awkward looks that only a sista can give you. Her eyes said “what the fuck is wrong with ole dude?” My shaking gets worse

After about 20 excruciating minuets of this hair cut, I reach in my pocket and hand Joe 25 dollars. He shakes my hand and tells me to come see him anytime and hands me a card. I practically run out the barbershop and call my then boyfriend on my cellphone to tell him what happened to which he got the biggest kick out of.

After that incident I cut my own hair for years up until fairly recently. The thing about anxiety is that its all in the mind. A lot of people struggle with social anxiety silently, thinking that they are just weirdos or they need an up dose on their Xanax. I for one don’t like those drugs and refuse to let the shakes burden me on my daily adventures. It took awhile, but with practice, I was finally able to walk into barbershops and not be afraid of a reboot of what happened that fall day about 11 years ago. We all need to relax at times and breathe. Those small breaths can determine rather we succeed or fail a project. It’s all in our head, and being sketchy is nothing but an illusion. Most of the time that is.

To that I say, “Miss Anxiety, you can suck it.” to which i receive no visceral reply. Why, because she’s not there. Miss Anxiety is indeed, an illusion. In your daily routine try not to sweat the small stuff, and indeed, It’s all small stuff.

Namaste.