Whether stressing over schoolwork, worrying about a family member, or anxiously awaiting a package, everyone has felt anxiety at some point in their life. While some people can easily distract themselves from stressful events, others aren’t able to manage their anxiety so well.
For a lot of my life, anxiety has been one of my constant companions; a friend that never leaves my side, no matter how intensely I wish it would. Even back in elementary school, I remember long mornings crying and begging my mother to let me stay home with her. Back then, leaving the comfort of her presence was extremely difficult for me (and honestly still is)!
But as the years have flown by, and after many therapy sessions and long tiresome days, I’ve come to realize that while anxiety will never stop pestering me, I can’t let it control me. In the past, I had a lot of difficulty saying “yes” to social gatherings and anything even remotely outside of my comfort zone. Anxiety was my constant excuse, it kept me from having fun and branching out, from making friends and trying new things. I had a perpetual fear of messing up, of letting others down, and of being disliked; I never gave myself the chance to grow and learn, to bring others up, and to make new friends.
Many days, I found it hard to get out of bed, my stomach twisting in circles and knotting at the mere thought of whatever was making me anxious at that time. For a while I prayed, wishing anxiety would stop harassing me, but I soon realized that anxiety was something I would have for the rest of my life.
After many discussions with my parents, friends, mentors, my therapist, and my father above, I realized that I would have to learn to live, to grow, and to learn despite my constant fears and worries. I started by doing little things outside of my comfort zone, like answering a question in class or choosing to give a presentation rather than write an essay. Slowly, I was able to build up to things that seemed bigger to me, like going through a drive-thru or to the grocery store by myself.
The things I used to fear have become a part of my life. I’ve found that my anxieties have turned into little things that I enjoy and people that make me happy. After I decided to stop listening to the insecure and anxious voices in my head, I was able to become happier and more confident in myself. Although I still get anxious over future events and worrisome about little things, I’m now able to push aside that anxiety and face my fears. I no longer avoid failure and use nervousness as an excuse, instead I embrace it and strive to learn from it.
So if you ever find that persistent and annoying companion, anxiety, knocking on your door… open it. Step outside and go do that thing you’ve been too anxious to do, go take that test or give that presentation. Know that if you fail, you’ll have the chance to grow and to try again.