In 2018, Twitter user M. Molly Backes used the term "an impossible task" to describe how it feels when a seemingly mundane thing becomes overwhelming, no matter how simple it should theoretically be.
3 days ago, Redditor u/WinstonChurchillin decided to revisit this idea with a new spin. In a post on r/AskReddit, they asked, "What makes you nervous no matter how many times you do it?" And it went viral. Turns out, impossible tasks are pretty universal!
From walking behind a woman on a quiet street to going on job interviews, here are some of the most popular answers.
When my boss goes 'can we just have a quick chat?'
Dr. Tamar Chansky, who is a licensed psychologist and the Founder of the Children's and Adult Center for OCD and Anxiety in Plymouth Meeting, PA, told Bored Panda that anxiety is a universal human experience. "We all have the capacity to feel fear, stress, and anxiety, and we all do," Dr. Chansky said.
But the source of these emotions can vary from person to person. "Individual differences come up with our thresholds for anxiety and also for the content of anxiety. A person stresses about interpersonal relationships but may have no fear about rock climbing or bungee jumping. Another may have no trouble swimming in the middle of the ocean, but gets stressed about deadlines or jumps at a spider," the psychologist explained.
Driving in between two semi trucks on the freeway. Bonus points if one or both is carrying a bunch of logs.
The author of Freeing Your Child from Anxiety and Freeing Yourself from Anxiety said, "Genetics plays a part in setting our anxiety thresholds as to what we react to and how strongly, but our experiences can as well."
Someone who has lived in protracted stressful situations can become much more reactive to even minor stressful situations. "People who have survived traumatic experiences and the like, their nervous system is primed for threat, and reminders of the traumatic event or other stressful situations can trigger what feels like uncontrollable anxious reactions — before they can even think or realize what is happening," Dr. Chansky said.
At meetings when they say, “Ok, everyone, let’s go around the room and introduce yourself.” Even worse when they require stupid things like, “Include your favorite food and why you like it” or “Tell us why you’re here.” Uhhh…because it’s mandatory?
Trying to mingle/start conversations in social settings where I don't know anybody.
However, if you relate to the people on this list and also freak out in everyday situations, don't beat yourself up over it. "While we might think that we can get used to things that make us anxious — and we can, and we do — that's not necessarily how it always happens," Dr. Chansky highlighted. "There is a 'sweet spot' for overcoming anxiety. The anxiety level has to be not too high (or too low) and then we can learn to see that the situation is manageable and control our reactions, actually 'right size' them and bring that experience into our comfort zone."
The psychologist suggests thinking about it like this: if a person who is afraid of dogs is exposed over and over again to a big, loud dog, they are going to get more and more anxious with each confrontation. But on the other hand, if they are exposed to a little dog, or even a sleeping dog (maybe even pictures of dogs), their nervous system will learn, through experience, that they are safe and won't have a disproportionate reaction. Eventually, the category of 'dog' will change in their mind through gradual exposure and the fear will diminish.
But sometimes our inner demons can get the best of us. Especially now. In a review of 215 studies exploring the ways Covid-19 affects the brain and mental health, the researchers found very high numbers of patients reporting symptoms of mental health issues like depression (23%) and anxiety (16%). "Even though it's expected, anxiety has spiked in the pandemic," Dr. Chansky added. If you feel like you can't manage, please seek help and support. You can start by learning new strategies for managing worry and anxiety, and can find them here.
Drive in front of a police officer when I have no reason to be nervous.
Standing up for myself. Not sure if it's how I was raised or lingering PTSD from a violent childhood event or whatever but my adrenaline immediately spikes expecting a confrontation, even when just politely asking someone not to speak me in a certain tone or whatever.
Every damn time
Approaching a green light that has been green too long but you are getting to the distance where you don't know whether or not you should stop or if you can stop
Merging onto a busy highway
When my someone says to me "can I be honest with you?"
No, lie to me, please!
Using an (I think) aluminum measuring tape but especially when clicking the button to make it roll back into its case. At the speed it recoils, I’m scared the tape will slice my hand right open.
Finding a tick on my body....
Calling someone on the phone. I'm a fairly outgoing person and I love talking to people, but I rely a lot on seeing a person's face and observing their body language, which isn't possible on the phone. Voicemails are less terrible, but I still panic a little because if I mess up while leaving a message, the other person has a freaking recording of me being really awkward. I'm so thankful texting exists.
The dentist, no matter how many times I go there it's always stressful
Starting a new job, because I can't stand the first few weeks where I don't know what I'm doing. But I love walking into a job after 6 months or so when I might as well own the place cause they can't operate without me!
Going into small businesses that I haven't been in before
Coming face to face with people in my apartment building. After being in lockdown and working from home I’ve become covid stupid. I’m not able to even get out a hello.
Going to local bars when I’m not a local lol. Those mfs can like smell you’re not from there even if you live the town over. They all stare at you like you’re an outside who needs to leave. So strange.