I have an anxiety disorder. And as far as I’m concerned, I always have and always will have it. It’s not something that’s fixable and I won’t delude myself into thinking that it is. (Mind you, fixable does not equal manageable!)
Ever since I could remember, I’ve always been anxious. So I’ve been lucky enough to not have had a “real attack” in two years, up until fairly recently. I remember in elementary school, my mother could often see that I’d gotten into random frustrated tizzies that ended up with stained cheeks and hyperventilation. In middle school, I’d hide my anxiety slightly better; picking off the skin on my fingers and carefully pulled out patches of hair. In high school, I was liable to explode into a panic at any given moment but often excused myself before the explosion. My list of anxiety and panic-inducing triggers was (and still is) quite extensive:
I am afraid of clowns.
I am afraid of butterflies.
I am afraid of the dark.
I am afraid of being late.
I am afraid of odd numbers & of being an abandoned.
I am afraid of individuals with hazel eyes.
I am sometimes afraid to speak mind (which has been a struggle considering I am trying to maintain a blog.)
But most importantly, I am afraid that one day I’ll stop being afraid.
Because to me having anxiety is not a curse. It is the reason I’ve avoided many dangerous situations in my past, and why I have accomplished so many things thus far.
I was afraid of applying to “reach” colleges and ended up in several of them when my fear propelled me into writing the applications anyways and throwing caution to the wind.
I was afraid of not being well-versed and worldly, and so I wrote an application for an exchange scholarship in 30 minutes before its deadline. When I got chosen to be an exchange student in Germany, I was almost always in tears. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends, much less learn a language I had no prior experience with. I was afraid that I had tricked two governments into giving me a chance that someone else deserved way more than me. But those fears ended up being unfounded. I managed to come back home with an almost native fluency in German, and I now have several friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime. I found myself arguing against intolerance while abroad, something that would normally send me into near nervous breakdowns, and back here at home. (A certain braveness that I never would have imagined having beforehand, especially in this current era of Trump, where a lack of human decency and personal accountability are prevalent.)
But the most important thing is to be unafraid in how one responds to your braveness. Because how they respond is more a reflection on them and their character, whilst your own courageousness speaks mounds about you.
I can’t say that I’m not anxious going into my second year of college. I did less than stellar in my Freshman year, fought with Imposter Syndrome, and had to come to terms with the end of a brief & unmemorable youth. But I know that like everything else, I will survive it even if my mind tries to convince me otherwise. There is a clinical satisfaction that I find within every overly excited heart beat, with every trembling finger that finds itself tracing obsessively along the curves of my skin. The feeling of a frenzied & beating heart reminds me that I am indeed alive. And it reminds me that I am braver than I give myself credit for.