Cover Photo: illustrations by Tallulah Pomeroy/photo by Jae Lee via flickr
illustrations by Tallulah Pomeroy/photo by Jae Lee via flickr

A Case of Picnic Anxiety

Introducing End It Now?, an advice column. Question 1: What to do about nervous tics?

Welcome to End It Now?, a narrative advice column. In each installment, Alissa Nutting and Dean Bakopoulos will address a question from a reader who is thinking  about quitting something:  a relationship, a job, a habit, a project. Dean and Alissa will respond with stories from their lives and the lives of others, and then deliver a verdict: Should the letter-writer end it now, or not so much, and why? 


Dear Alissa and Dean:

I am somewhat of an anxious person. When my anxiety is acting up, I start to rub my thighs or gnaw at the skin on the fingers. It’s second nature—I perform these actions without my brain even registering that I'm doing it. My mother says she can always tell when I’m nervous, and she thinks this is becoming a social barrier for me. Yes, it’s annoying; on the other hand, I’m not hurting anyone, and my tics do help me. They make me feel like I have control over something in a world where so many things are out of my hands. Do I need to end this simple habit?


Anxious Reader


don’t even want to know


Alissa Nutting is author of novels Tampa (Ecco/HarperCollins) and the forthcoming Made for Love (Ecco/HarperCollins). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.  

Dean Bakopoulos’s Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon was a New York Times Notable Book. His second novel, My American Unhappiness, was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his latest novel, Summerlong made the independent bookstore bestseller list.