Universal Studios

This Roller Coaster Sucks, I Want to Get Off

Growing up, I hated theme parks and roller coasters. Every time my parents would tell me to suck it up and enjoy the ride, especially because they’d gotten me there in the first place, I had to vehemently sob and beg them to let me wait at the exit. 

I didn’t, and still don’t, enjoy the twists and turns that shake and rattle you. I can’t stand the headache from anxiety that I get anticipating what could or would happen if I were to venture onto the ride. I hate the idea of not knowing what’s going to happen; the ups and downs continuously popping up in an attempt to surprise you. Maybe it’s the surprises in general that make me feel like I’m walking through a house of horrors blindfolded and at the mercy of the surrounding nightmares. Whatever it is, it’s miserable, and my personal hell. 

Since I’ve grown up and escaped the grasps of my parents’ attempts at family bonding, it’s been easier to avoid the roller coasters I so strongly hate. I went years without having to experience the same anxieties, living a normal life. Lately, however, it’s like I’ve been pulled back; forced to confront the worst ride of all time. 

Like the majority of the world, fear is lingering over me at every moment. While I’m not at Universal Studios, the roller coaster I (along with the rest of the world) am on is worse than any metal contraption I could’ve conjured up. 

As an avid news-junkie with notifications from CNN, NYT, AJC, and Twitter, constantly lighting up my phone screen, there’s no escaping the nonstop news cycle that only seems to report rising death tolls. When I go to sleep at night with a sliver of peace, I wake up to worsening realities that each media outlet blows out of proportion and reports until you feel trapped. 

When you feel like things can’t get worse, the pollen that’s building up each day in Atlanta causes breathing issues, making you even more nervous. At the bottom of your heart, when you feel as though you’re trapped in a Black Mirror episode, there’s good news: recoveries on the rise, universities sending vaccines to the FDA, mild symptoms are more common than serious ones, etc.. But then the roller coaster has a surprise sharp drop, plunging you deeper into despair when you think about how long this might last; how detrimental it is for every person, personally infected or not. 

As a person with both crippling anxiety and a deeply empathetic side, this is the perfect storm to create the worst ride of your life. Like any ride, you don’t know how long it will last; some are 30 second reigns of terror, others are impressively long 3-minute endeavors. That uncertainty makes it even worse, but in a way, it might make it better. 

At some point, on every roller coaster, you get off and you move on. You might be rattled when you step out, dazed and confused by what just happened and what to expect when you take your first steps, but you start to recover slowly but surely. As I’m sure many people understand, sometimes you get on another one, like we might have to do as a country until we make the progress to shut down the ride. Until then, however, we ride, we stay as safe as we can, and we get off; recovering a little bit with every step we take away from it.