The great Aldi Adventure of 2017

I have been a little obsessed…

with the idea of German grocery stores ever since Edeka’s Supergeil commercial made it’s debut. (You’re welcome for that link, by the way.) Not only are German supermarkets home to Ritter Sport Butter Biscuits, they apparently also have suave old dudes, frolicking about, singing and dancing to industrial music in their aisles.

Could it get any better?

I’ve since learned that Aldi is owned by a German company and I’ve wanted to go ever since because, well… frolicking dudes and German cookies. Also it’s supposed to be hella-cheap and full of organic and non-GMO food and that’s important too, I guess.

There’s an Aldi down the street from me and every time I drive by — which has been approximately eleventy-billion times in the past three years — I think to myself, “I should really go shop there sometime.”

Yeah, you read that right. I’ve been thinking about going for three years. Clearly grocery shopping isn’t high on my priority list.

Anyhoooo… after overhearing my friend Brandi talk about a trip to Aldi a few weeks ago, I decided to finally give it a go. Except I have this whole weird social anxiety thing that’s been acting up recently as these things tend to do in times of high stress (and trust me, starting a new business is definitely a time of high stress).

In the past year I’ve managed to earn a Master’s degree, quit a job of 16 years, launch two businesses and travel to two foreign countries, but not knowing what awaits me on the other side of Aldi’s electronic doors (groceries?) is legit, straight up giving me anxiety.

True story.

[Photo credit: Flickr | Mike Mozart]

So I called Brandi.

“I’m having far more anxiety over shopping at a new store than one should, but here we are. So… which Aldi do you go to? Is it cool? Are they nice? Do I have to bring my own bags? Will they laugh at me once I step inside? And what about the frolicking dudes? Like, are they real?”

Brandi was super-cool and talked me off the ledge by answering all my questions without judgement. I decided I had enough information to finally face this silly fear and, as we talked, I steered the car towards Aldi. Just as I was pulling up to the corner to turn into the parking lot Brandi added, “Oh, and you’ll need a quarter for the shopping cart.”

My gentle snowflakes, I have never been so relieved to be sans one shiny quarter in my life. I drove my ass right past Aldi and straight to my local Kroger.

Dodged that bullet.

The cart locking system at Aldi. [Photo credit: Flickr | Matt Katzenberger]

Except I couldn’t get the “Aldi thing” out of my head.

More so, I couldn’t get the “anxiety thing” out of my head. For years I lived with anxiety and limited my life because of an overwhelming fear of the unknown. That was the old me, however. For the better part of the last decade I have reveled in a new life — one free of social anxiety and depression. I’ve been going a little backwards lately and it breaks my heart.

I don’t want to be that former version of myself again.

So, I’ve been gathering quarters in my coat pocket for a week now, preparing to face this (admittedly, laughable) fear. Sunday night another friend, Susan, who knows about my “Aldi anxiety” sent me a “What you should know about shopping at Aldi” video.

I thank the universe for my Hive who supports me in facing even the most laughable of fears. Monday morning I decided I had wasted enough time and energy on something that, in the scheme of things, really didn’t matter all that much.

Okay, not my actual Aldi. [Photo credit: Flickr | Thor1414]

I went to Aldi.

And I had to ask someone to show me how to unleash the carts with my shiny quarter. And the cashier smirked at me when I tried to bag my groceries at the conveyor belt (there’s a shelf at the front of the store you go to after you check out). And I didn’t buy enough bags the first time through to carry all my groceries, so I had to go back through the line a second time. And a very aggressive (or near-sighted — or both) woman damn near took me out trying to get to the frozen organic mango chunks.

I’m pretty sure EVERYONE knew it was my first time at Aldi. *gasp*

But just like every fear that has ever been placed in my path, I survived it. In fact, I’m kind of like an old-school Aldi pro now.

Truth is…

The “Aldi anxiety” was really just a displaced fear of some other stuff going on in life right now — stuff like quitting a job and leaving behind everything that has ever been familiar. Every day I’m stepping into strange new places and having to rely on the direction of complete strangers to survive. It’s unsettling to say the least.

But, just like Aldi, I’ll survive this unknown territory too. II’ll do it because I have a pocketful of tools (quarters and otherwise) to lean on — tools that many wonderful women helped me to develop. I’ll do it because I have a Brandi and a Susan that will show me love without judgement. And I’ll do it because I believe that I don’t have to define myself by who I used to be. I went back there for a time, but I didn’t stay too long.

Change works like that, after all — back and forth, zigs and zags. It’s not a linear process as much as we would like it to be.

So, what’s the “silliest” fear you ever faced down?

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