This year I am learning a lot about myself and my relationship with anxiety. I didn’t call it by its name until this year, mostly because it was a new feeling for me and I never thought of myself as an “anxious” person.
It started with big things, like being anxious for a presentation, and then moved to simple things like going to the store, or even going to class. Once I started to let it affect my daily actions, I realized just how out of control it was.
I vividly remember sitting in my parked car outside of the mall (which is a 45 minute drive for me) and being so concerned with my appearance, the fact that I was alone, and knowing that I would have to interact with people once I entered the mall, that I turned around and drove all the way home.
Even typing that makes me feel ridiculous, but at the time those feelings were so real to me that I convinced myself to do the OPPOSITE of what I actually wanted to do, which was shop! … and I LOVE shopping.
This really became an issue when I stopped going to some of my classes. As much as it PAINS me to admit, I let my anxiety affect my attendance and my grades. The worry of walking in late and having everyone look at me, or being called on when I wasn’t prepared, or the possibility of a group discussion, or absurd thoughts like getting the hiccups in class (which has never even happened before) were all worse than not going at all, even if my grade would suffer.
I am proud to say I have overcame my anxiety in that regard. I still struggle with it time and again but I no longer let it affect my actions.
I HIGHLY recommend following Mel Robbins on instagram, and anywhere else you can find her. She gave me the tools to take a step back and realize what was actually happening inside my head.
She explains it like this, or at least this is what I took away- You’re brain is designed to protect you. Irrational fear in the form of anxiety is a way for your brain to say “STOP, don’t go to class- stay home and be safe- don’t put yourself in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation”. But the reality is, I have to go to class, and I have to put myself in situations I am not always completely comfortable with in order to grow, and just get through life.
Once I started looking at it this way, I was able to change my thinking, and therefore, my actions while experiencing anxiety. Now that I understand what’s happening and that there’s a valid reason for my anxiety, I am able to move past it.
If you have anxiety, my advice to you would be to take a step back, and then look inward for the reasons behind your anxiety. Define it, make it real, understand it, feel it -and then conquer it.