As a nervous human who has struggled with social anxiety for as long as I’ve been aware of my own consciousness, I know how hard it can be to function when you’re feeling freaked. Many days, I’d rather hide out in my house than go out and face the world — at least, that’s what my brain tells me. Ultimately this so-called solution only leaves me feeling more anxious and isolated. I seem to fare best when I go out and face the world — not matter how scary it is.
The good news: Bum the Worried Cat gets it. The adorably cross-eyed tabby from San Francisco has become a favorite on Instagram thanks to his unusual face that’s permanently fixed with a cartoonishly concerned expression. Assuming he feels as nervous as he looks, he also seems to be a pro at feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Here are seven times Bum tackled life with anxiety and came out a winner.
1. Does This Sweater Look Weird on Me?
We’ve all had that that “uh-oh” moment after buying a new shirt. It usually happens after we’re already at work, when we realize our latest purchase looked good only on the rack or in the fitting room, but it does not hold up well in the harsh environments and bad lighting corporate life thrusts upon us.
Bum’s been there. The day he donned this adorable sweater — against his will, he’ll have you know — he worried he might suffocate. But instead he survived, and he looked darn good in the process.
2. If You Need Me, I’ll Be in the Closet
Staring down another rough day, it’s tempting to call in “sick” to work and spend the whole day watching Better Call Saul on Netflix for the fourth time. Taking the occasional mental health day is fine, of course — even necessary. It’s even better if you can hide out in style, just like Bum rocks this colorful box.
3. Don’t Let Your Therapy Stress You Out More
I’ve yet to try it, but allegedly coloring can provide therapeutic relief to the myriad stressors that accompany hardcore adulting. If you’re anything like Bum, though, this break from the daily grind can be another reason to worry: “I keep telling my mom to be careful, but I get so worried she’s going to color outside the lines that I grab the marker from her every once in a while,” the cat reports. “She doesn’t appreciate the help as much as she should.”
4. But What If They Don’t Like Me?
We’ve all had that moment before a social engagement: We showered, put on the jeans without holes, and made every effort to look like a normal, respectable human, but we’re still plagued with doubt that everything we’ve done is somehow wrong. For me, the anxiety comes down to one basic fear I’ve had since childhood: What if no one likes me?
In these moments, my face looks almost identical to Bum’s. The cat is almost certainly dreading going to some kind of holiday office party or bridal shower for an acquaintance. Hang in there, Bum!
5. Maybe a Drink Would Help
As long as you don’t overdo it, a little liquid courage can certainly help take the edge off. Bum seems to agree — and he’s got good taste, as those copper mugs suggest he’s about to mix up some Moscow mules. Bum would make the best bartender — and I’d tip him only in catnip!
6. They Not Only Like You, They Love You
The good news, of course, is that most of the time my fears about no one liking me at social gatherings are unfounded, and I end up finding one or two people I actually feel comfortable talking to — or in Bum’s case, even cuddling with. Such is the great magic of cuddling — all worries magically melt away in someone else’s arms.
7. No, Really — They Are Crazy About You
Once you find your people and learn how to let them love you, spending a little quality time with them can be enough to take the edge off any anxiety attack.
8. But What If This Is Just How My Face Looks?
Don’t worry, Bum — I have resting bitch face, so I know what it’s like to have strangers assume I’m sad or having a bad day and tell me to smile when in actuality I’m totally fine and just calmly waiting in line at the coffee shop. Own your worried face — it looks good on you.