The loud, unexpected fire drill came upon me today. My earplugs couldn’t block it out; everyone had to participate. I had no choice but to break my supposingly fixed routine.
Routine is my life, my method of dealing with anxiety. I list out the tasks I have to carry out of the day, and I follow whatever I write down. However, the fire drill was not written down on my list. My anxiety level heightened. People who I usually don’t see came out of their offices, chatting, relieved to take a break from their work for an hour. I seemed to be the only unhappy person. I follow them, too overwhelmed by all the noises, flashing red lights around me to speak. We all go to the staircase, where the echoing voices and the siren amplify and won’t stop. As a pianist, I seem to have a heightened level of auditory sensitivity; the confusing, disrupting loudness was torturing my ears. It all finally stopped after several minutes, and everyone went back to their work like nothing unusual happened. But there was no peace in me the rest of the day.