I have struggled with anxiety since long before I knew what "anxiety" was. From the first time I can remember my early school days, I always worried way too much about everything - what other people thought of me, how well I was performing academically, what crayon to use on the princess page of my coloring book, literally everything.
As you can probably imagine, these worries only got worse as I grew older. Every day, my mind was filtering through what to worry about more - my future career, my relationships (or lack thereof), my looks, my education, my resume, my involvement, and keeping up with old and new friends. These thoughts consumed my days and kept me from falling asleep at night.
My mind controlled my life. It took 20 years of living with this monster to understand that I can't "fix" it. I have to embrace it. This realization started to change the way I see my world.
Normal doesn't exist.
For years, I tried so desperately to fit into the confines of an undefinable word: "normal." We all do this at some point in our lives. Normal is unattainable. There is no normal path to take in life, no normal way to dress, no normal way to live. It simply doesn't exist. I'm not "normal," and that's ok.
Fear is inevitable.
There is always something that will scare us. It's more often than not the next phase of life and the uncertainty of it all. In high school, I was afraid of college. In college, I was afraid of the working world. Now, I'm afraid of settling down. We fear what's next, that's natural. But anxiety takes fear to a whole new level.
Understanding that this is something I cannot control, has allowed me to embrace my fears and channel that energy into something productive.
Not Everything Will Go As Planned.
I'm a planner. I like to know how things are going to work out - anxiety kind of works that way. I meticulously write out exactly how I think things should go and when they don't, I have a minor (or major) breakdown.
But I've learned that there's beauty in that. Think about the very first time you made a life plan - the job you wanted, the relationship you had, the city you would live in. I'm not doing anything that was part of my original planned that I slaved over in high school. I know my life would be drastically different had things gone according to that plan, and every day I'm thankful that they didn't.
Embrace the unknown. Life has a funny way of working out the way it's supposed to. I'm not saying that I will never worry about the future again, but I will find comfort in the unsure moments.
Anxiety Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of.
Living in a constant state of worry should not be something that anyone goes through alone. However, many people deal with anxiety and are too ashamed to be open and honest with their inner circle - I was that way for many years. When you find that friend you can confide in, it's worth sharing what you're going through. It's never good to go through this alone.
When I found a friend to be completely open with it changed the way I viewed myself. I didn't see judgement in her eyes and it helped me see myself in a brighter light. I shouldn't be ashamed of what I'm going through, I should embrace it.
The truth is we all worry. We don't always see the difficult situations as opportunities, but perspective is everything. I could see my anxiety as a negative force in my life or turn it around and make it my motivation to worry less and live more. I believe you can do that, too.