I don’t want to be seen.
I’m walking along an uneven road aided by the warm, white shine of old street-lamps. I pull my big hood further over my face.
I don’t want to be seen.
My steps are quick, efficient, and quiet. My shoulders are pulled forward slightly; my hands are in my pockets, and in one of them, I hold my phone.
There are only a few houses in this neighborhood, and most of the windows are pitch-black—it is 4 a.m. Every moving shadow, every faint sound grabs my attention. As fear creeps into my consciousness, I try to push it back down.
Shoulders back, I remind myself. Gazing at the wet asphalt, walking a little faster without quite breaking into a run, I imagine what it would feel like to be strong—physically strong.
As I turn to my right at a deserted intersection, it’s too dark to see what’s ahead of me. I’m by myself—and I wish for nothing more than to stay by myself. At this point, my mind is completely consumed by the darkness of walking home alone.
Every single horror movie I’ve seen flashes through my mind.
I can’t seem to find trust in my surroundings—not in the comforting light drizzle, nor in the cute black kitty that crosses my path. When I finally recognize a silhouette at the end of the road, I hold my breath. In a moment of slight hope, I think it belongs to another woman. But reality sets in, and I can’t fool myself since all of my senses are wide awake: it’s a man.
As he gets closer to me, I try to breathe. I walk as casually as I can. But there’s one thing that gives away my anxiety and fear: I can’t look him in the eyes. In my pocket, my hand is now firmly clenching my phone. I act as if it’d be a safety net, a magical device that could have the power to somehow take me home. This time, I am fooling myself successfully: Who’d ever attack someone with a phone, ready to call a close relative at 4 a.m.?
We’re close to each other. He is confident. Big shoulders and a black baseball cap. I can feel his stare, while I can feel the last bit of my own confidence leaving. My knees are shaking; my steps have become somewhat robotic. All the subtle sounds—the distant cars on the highway, the light rain on my coat, the crunching of my sneakers on the ground—are suddenly gone.
As he walks by, I can only hear my heart pound.
Dear Anxious Soul,
Whenever you walk home alone at night, walk with a strong back and a soft front. Your ability to be soft, to accept your weakness, is your greatest asset.
Whenever you walk home alone at night, let yourself be seen. You are there, on the streets, a magical being; you can do this.
Whenever you walk home alone at night, leave room for things to happen. Build a gap in your anxious mind—give strangers the opportunity to be just as tender and just as scared as you are. By doing so, you of course also leave room for them to be angry, dangerous, or out of control. That’s part of a truth we can hardly escape.
But whenever you walk home alone at night, promise me one thing: tune into your intuition. A slight tendency to walk a different path than last weekend? Go for it. An urge from deep down to turn around and walk back to where you saw a group of people, just so you’re not alone? Do it. Someone is asking for directions, but your initial, unspoken response is “no”? Say it out loud.
This is the only weapon you’ll need for nights like these: your intuition. You won’t have to train it. It’s ingrained in your soul. You’ll feel it. Trust that your first response in potentially dangerous situations is always the right one. Where men hold power in strength, women carry a powerful, protective inner voice.
You don’t need to be able to fight, for your strategy is so much more delicate: you choose to win with love. You are an intuitive being. Protected by the universe, you can afford to walk unguarded. You can afford to walk with a strong back—and a soft heart.
Your own heart
Author: Svenja Dietz
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron