As you guys may have read before, anxiety has been something that I’ve struggled with for a very long time.
I still do actually.
I’m not sure if it’ll ever completely go away and I’ve learned to accept that.
For anyone who struggles with anxiety or any other mental hardship, you may think it’s only there to torture you, but I promise, one day you’re going to look back and see that it made you stronger.
I never believed that would be true for me until I looked back on where I was then and compared it to how strong I am now.
I can tell you now, that my anxiety changed me for the better and here’s how…
Studying the Art That is Me
It all started back when I was just a wee-prepubescent-tot in the 6th grade.
After living my whole life in my hometown, growing up with the same kids and knowing the same teachers year-after-year, my mom decided to up and move to LA.
I was completely lost in the art of making new friends.
I’ve never learned how to because I’ve never needed to! I’ve had the same friends my whole life.
My social anxiety went through the roof to the point where it was impossible to make new friends.
Those three years were miserable to say the least.
Everyday I sat alone. Everyday I had no one to talk to. Everyday I tried my hardest to convince my mom not to make me go to school. Everyday I was lonely.
Until finally in eighth grade, I decided my best bet was to be home-schooled.
That must be better than having no friends, right?
For four years, I sat in my room alone. I had no one to talk to. I was all alone.
I cried a lot.
I almost went insane.
As horrible and lonely this time in my life was, those dead-silent four walls taught me a lot.
I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted, what made me sad, what made me happy, what I needed to change.
Looking back, would I go back and change my decision to home-school? Yes.
But I don’t regret my choice. It led me here, writing this post for you.
Pushed Through My Fears
All those years of being by myself led me to my breaking point.
I didn’t want to be that person anymore.
I wanted to stop caring whether or not people liked me. I wanted to stop being shy. I wanted to stop being scared of meeting new people. I wanted to stop disliking myself. I wanted to stop feeling anxious. I wanted to stop crying. I wanted to stop praying to a God I wasn’t even sure existed. I wanted to stop being me.
So, I decided I needed to change.
“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” – Walter Anderson
I didn’t know where to start exactly, but I knew that what I needed was to be around people.
I knew that getting a job would take way too long, especially being in a wheelchair.
I didn’t want to wait any longer, I had to do something now. So, I decided to enroll in college.
I’m not going to lie, during my first year, there were multiple times where I just wanted to throw my towel in, say “I give up” and drop out of school.
I wasn’t taking classes I enjoyed, I wasn’t meeting anybody, I wasn’t becoming more social. I hated everything about it…well, maybe not the financial aid. That was nice.
Anyways, I was nearing the beginning of a new semester and had no interest in re-enrolling. I convinced myself that I would find other ways to get out the house.
That same day I was home alone…all day…by myself.
I knew I couldn’t go back to that part of my life. I had to stick it out.
I started thinking about majors that I could possibly enjoy and that would also help me step out of my comfort zone.
I remembered how one time my teacher wrote on my paper how I would be great on the speech and debate team based on my essay.
That’s when I found my new major.
Even though it was the most horrifying thing ever, I absolutely loved it!
Overtime, I started getting used to the thrill of it all. I wouldn’t get as nervous, I stopped shaking, I even started making eye contact with the audience.
As nice as it was finally being able to feel comfortable in front of people, I missed that thrill.
The adrenaline after each speech made me get excited, feel more confident, more talkative.
I wanted that back.
I needed to step up my game.
That my friends, is when I joined theatre.
(Yes, I spelt it with an ‘re because I’m fancy like that.)
As most people would assume, being involved in theater and speech for two years took away a big percentage of my social anxiety.
I was able to easily hold conversations with people (sometimes longer than need be). I finally felt free to be myself. I slowly stopped caring what people thought about me. Things that I thought made me look stupid before started to seem so minuscule. I stopped having anxiety if people stared at me and I gained more confidence than I thought I could.
When I first started taking theater and speech classes I was HORRIBLE.
It wasn’t even that I wasn’t good, I just couldn’t even try because the anxiety was too much…so yeah, I guess that would mean I wasn’t good.
Over time, with continuous acts of stepping out of my comfort zone and stepping in front of people, my anxiety started dying down.
I was able to give f***ing amazing performances, if I do say so myself.
These good performances and continuous support from my classmates boosted my confidence in ways I wouldn’t trade for the world.
From that point on, holding conversations and meeting new people was a walk in the park.
I don’t act anymore but I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and memories I’ve gotten from doing it because it truly saved me.
Love and Life
Most people believe that you don’t really know what you want out of love until you go out there and test the waters, meet new people, get your heart broken a couple of times.
It was opposite for me.
I learned exactly what I wanted needed by being completely alone.
I had a lot of time to sit around and think. Think about the types of people I want in my life. The types of people in my past who brought out the best in me that I hope to have in the future. The type of person I need by my side. The type of person who would love me the way I want and deserved to be loved. I thought about the people who I chased in the past but who didn’t chase back and how I would never do that again.
Being single also allowed me learn from other people’s mistakes. Like a journalist, I would sit back and watch, ready to find the hottest gossip for next weeks pitch meeting.
Notebook in hand, pencil behind the ear, ready to go.
I took notes on things that I needed to be prepared for before falling in love, such as: the difficulties of me being in a wheelchair, his life choices, – not to sound judgey, but dudes gotta have a job – whether or not this person respects me and makes it easy for me to trust him, if I genuinely love him and love being around him, what I want to achieve in life before settling down, the list goes on and on.
My anxiety plays a huge part in letting people in because of all things I have to think about, but hey, hopefully it lets me know what I want.
I Deserve the World
Out of all the things my anxiety has taught me, the most important thing was that I realized what I deserve.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my doubts about myself, I still have my anxieties and let’s be honest…I’m still lazy.
But despite all this, I learned that nobody’s going to be there for me except myself and in all reality, that’s all I need.
I went through a lot in those years of solidarity. It made me feel drained for a long time. I’m still recovering to this day. Now that I’ve built a little bit more confidence, it’s time that I focus on myself and know that’s enough.
I know that I need to create the reality that I want to exist and that starts from within, but it also takes time.
I know who I am…but I’m still learning.
I know what I want…but I’m still learning.
I know who I want to be friends with…but I’m still learning.
I know the type of man I want to love me…but I’m still learning.
I know how to deal with my anxieties and sadness…but I’m still learning.
I know I deserve the world…but I’m still learning what that world is.
I’m learning…and that’s okay.
Before I learned how to control my anxiety, I didn’t want to learn. I wanted to be happy NOW. I wanted to have friends NOW. I wanted to fall in love NOW.
I was so impatient and that’s what drove me insane.
My anxiety taught me to reach for what I want, but to also be okay with where I am. It’s still a battle I face everyday, but it’s one I’m strong enough to handle.
- What’s one “negative” thing in your life that you’re grateful for? How did you get to this stage?
I’d Love to Hear from You!
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Can’t wait to hear from you!