The Thin Line Between Anxiety and Excitement

14 Mar

“The magic is here.”

I am one of those who don’t believe in the supernatural, or in ‘magic’, per say; but I do have the alternative definition of something ‘magical’ – the experience of something so fleeting and surreal that one may feel extreme emotions; the climax of such excitement, the result of certain anxiousness – the experience that knocks you off your feet. Magic.

Magic, for me, can be defined when you reach the spot between anxiety and excitement – that place where you feel happy and vulnerable at the same time; where you understand what is happening but at the same time you’re terrified because you’ve actually got no clue.

Webster’s define anxiety as a ‘concern or solicitude respecting some thing or event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness’, and excitement, on the other hand it is ‘the feeling of lively and cheerful joy’.

In my opinion, the balance between those two feelings, in a deeper sense, can be called ‘love’; but in a lighter sense, is what you call ‘waiting-in-line-before-riding-the-roller-coaster’.

Watching people who are in line for the roller coaster is a whole new world all together. For true anxiety and excitement can’t be put into words, can barely be seen but can only be felt. Here in a place where the ‘magic’ is, Enchanted Kingdom, the atmosphere of such emotions can be found everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not just talking about roller coasters, for Enchanted Kingdom has a variety of other exhilarating rides. The Rio Grande Rapids, which might be the number one most talked about ride in the park; Flying Fiesta, which you ride, most of the time, to dry yourself up after being drenched with the waters of Rio; Space Shuttle, the famous roller coaster, of course; Log Jam, also a roller coaster, except with a splash; Extreme, the ride that will lift you up in the air and drop you rapidly, almost to the ground; Anchors Away, also a candidate for a thrilling ride, and which is often underestimated; and so much more. All of those rides offer a stage for seeing anxiousness and excitement from people.

People grouped together – mostly in their families, sometimes as a barkada, and very few times as a couple – run around the streets of the theme park like they are all young at heart. Each seemed to have certain effervescence in one’s stance. If I were to imagine all of their thoughts through speech bubbles above their heads, the air would’ve been filled with billows of colorful thoughts.

Although, generalizing that everyone has the same mix of emotions is an understatement – because based on my opinion and observations, there may be four types of states a person goes through when riding an extreme and thrilling ride.

The first one is the hyper-anxious; looks predominantly eager on the outside, but predominantly scared on the inside. This can be a state wherein a person moves more and talks more to cope with the inner stress that the anxiety and excitement of the experience is bringing about. People waiting in line may be noisy and restless – and when you see them already on the ride, all the hidden tensions come out; they shut their eyes and they grip the bars of the ride like there’s no tomorrow.

The next one may be the loud-excited; looks predominantly eager on the outside, and predominantly eager on the inside. The giddy state, and also, what you see on the outside is what you get. They are also hyper while waiting on line, like the excited-anxious, but during the ride, you see them still enjoying.

The third one is the cool-excited; remains silent, but predominantly eager on the inside. It is the ‘play-it-cool’ state. As observed, it is commonly seen in the upper-mid class/high class (which are seldom seen in Enchanted Kingdom), those who want to appear like they are shrugging the rides off—they are ‘cool’ about it. The psychological implications of this may be because they have been abroad, and the theme parks there could be more extreme than those found in EK (EK is targeting the middle class/low-mid class, based on the majority of people who were there when we visited). When in line, they seem bored, and they are clearly not restless, but during the ride, they are as giddy as the others.

The last one is the quiet-anxious; remains silent, and predominantly scared on the inside. What you see is what you get. This is common for the younger batch of visitors of the theme park. Same with the loud-excited, what you see is what you get. They are quiet on the line, and during the ride, the fear and anxiety is there.

These four categories might have been influence greatly by class, age, and gender.

I have observed that the upper class are the ones who want to play it ‘cool’, while the lower class are the ones who aren’t reluctant on being noisy and playful. The cultural implication of this is that the upper class has a different upbringing compared to the lower class; they are more concerned of what others might say if they act rowdy.

Next, age can be a big factor. The older people (in fact, the majority of them don’t hop on to the rides anymore, as I have observed) are more likely to be the ones ‘playing it cool’ and hiding under a façade, of some sort; while, the youth are the ones who are more vocal about their comments and eagerness about the rides. They are also braver, in a sense, and this is why they hop on the rides without limitations. Adding to this, late adults have trouble coping with the impact of the rides, also by medical reasons; their bodies cannot handle the pressures anymore.

Lastly, gender is a huge factor as well. Girls are naturally louder when it comes to voicing out their emotions, while boys are the ones who would put on a façade. Also, boys tend to boast more, and girls tend to be less aggressive when it comes to those situations.

Of the four categories that I have managed to observe from people, I realized that it doesn’t end there – there may be a mixture of those mentioned categories and there may even be some states that are yet to be observed; everything is subjective to the individual. Although, there is one projected message that is being stated after observing those different states that people experience – and that is, when we reach a certain level of anxiety or excitement, our true emotions can be seen. In a nutshell, roller coasters (and other rides as such) can bring about what a person is truly feeling on the inside.

There are some who try to hide it, but at the end of the day, when that person’s anxiety and excitement are pushed to the peak, there can be no façade to hide what’s really going on in a person’s head.

Everyone was equal, pure, and honest as one can be, when riding that one ride that brings about the climax of excitement, and of anxiety.

There’s a thin line between excitement and anxiety – this is what I’ve realized on that Sunday afternoon at Enchanted Kingdom. One moment you want to play it ‘cool’, the next, you are giddy, and then you are screaming at the top of your lungs but you don’t even know why anymore. Everything shuts off – except that specific feeling that you have in your gut; that emotion that you got on that space between anxiety and excitement—

the ‘magic’ that makes you hungry for more.

by: Bernice Reyes


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