Van Dwelling as Cognitive Therapy

Today is my third day of living in the 1983 Ford Econoline. It was also my first day driving it to work. I hadn’t mentioned this particular lifestyle experiment to any of my coworkers beforehand.

One of them asked how I was doing.

“Well, in the last two weeks, I’ve quit smoking, quit caffeine, and moved into a van. So yeah, I’m kind of fucking depressed.”

She agreed with me, awkwardly, and scurried away.

Another gave me a funny look when I walked in. He didn’t say anything about the van but he did ask why I gave up caffeine.

“Dude, I have an anxiety disorder. Why the fuck would I drink stimulants?”

He didn’t really have a response to that.

I share these things because, even a week ago, I would never have said them. In fact, so far, the biggest benefit of living in a van is that each day I give one less fuck what other people think.

I’ve caught so many weird looks from people — at the gym, at Walmart, at the park — that it’s all starting to bounce right off.

For someone who has been crippled by social anxiety for most of the past seven years, I can’t tell you how good that feels.

Not that it’s all just up and up. I do feel depressed, but based on past experience, I’d say that’s probably the caffeine withdrawal.

Now, as for the exercise in Not Giving A Fuck — next week will be the true test. For the first time this year I have a date, and what’s more, it’s with a girl I’m genuinely interested in.

It’s funny how it all goes together. A week ago I wouldn’t have spoken my mind to my coworkers; neither would I have asked for this girl’s number.

Anyway, fuck knows how the “so, I live in a van” conversation will go. A rejection there would definitely sting, but it would be a great opportunity to explore deeper levels of Not Giving A Fuck.

And really, what else is life about?

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