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Blabby Abby: Big cities, introverts do not mix

I have recently returned from a Spring Break trip to New York City and despite the travel exhaustion and the inevitable return to classes, I wanted to revisit a certain anxiety trigger for myself and others: big cities. 

Medical News Today said urban areas can cause an uptick in stress and anxiety in some individuals. As an introvert from the suburbs, there is definitely some truth to that. 

Despite being from Cleveland, where I’ve been downtown several times, some cities are literally triple the size and therefore triple the amount of stress. New York was like the final boss of an anxiety-themed video game.

Along with New York City, NYC, I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel to cities like Chicago and Boston, where I’ve also experienced that familiar anxiety. It all starts with travel for me, which I know is a common trigger for individuals with anxiety. In a study reported on by The Boston Globe it was found over 90% of Americans experience travel anxiety. 

The rapid-fire anxious thoughts continue throughout my days of travel. Did I pack everything I need? What if they tackle me in TSA for having a 4-ounce shampoo bottle? What if this plane comes crashing down and I never got to attend the Eras Tour? Needless to say, my first time traveling alone was pretty nerve-wracking. 

Despite the nerves and anxiety, New York was an incredible experience, and I highly recommend everyone visit it at some point. Avoiding the big crowds in Times Square and germs on the subway is nearly impossible. But, there are still ways to enjoy trips like these even when anxious triggers are everywhere. 

Traveling in groups is the most obvious way to get around feeling safe. I would also recommend traveling with someone who knows the area or is at least familiar with it. Going into the city blind is challenging and will inevitably reveal how frustrating Apple Maps truly is. 

Do your research on the area, know the places you want to go see and how to get there. I promise the subway isn’t as scary as you think it is. Just definitely bring hand sanitizer and get ready to see a rodent or two. 

Asking locals is intimidating, but they know the city better than you, so asking around is always an option. If they decline, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll never see them again. 

People will honk at you in the crosswalk, and sometimes you might see your life flash before your eyes because of a speed demon on a bicycle. Be aware of your surroundings for your safety, but also remember to take in the beauty that is the city. Despite it smelling like a hot dog and a fart, there are still plenty of incredible sights to see. 

In the moments when I felt incredible stress because of big crowds or an unfamiliar area, I would simply find an area to regroup. There are times I’ve experienced blatant panic from my surroundings in the city. My best advice is to find a spot in a coffee shop or something, grab a sweet treat and take a minute or two to reassure yourself. 

Don’t let anxiety rob you of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is easier said than done of course, however, know many other people are experiencing the same anxieties and once you become familiar with any big city, it will be as easy to navigate as your hometown. 

Abby Jenkins is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Let Abby know by tweeting her @abbyjenks18 or emailing her at

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