For the longest time I felt that the anxiety that has been a part of my life for so long has only served the purpose of making life much harder than it needs to be. I saw it as a curse when it caused trouble as little girl who could never fall asleep until her father was home because she assumed all the sounds of ambulances had something to do with her dad.
I saw it as my worst enemy when it showed up in middle school and made me retreat into myself and isolate myself from people because I was always too preoccupied with what other’s were thinking about me. I found it utterly exhausting in high school when it created the perfect breeding ground for perfectionism to take hold and begin to make everything I did something that was somehow lacking and needed improvement. And last but not least, I learned to despise it when it would lead me into bouts of depression.
For the longest time I have been at war with my anxiety. I have learned to hate it. But after thinking about my history with anxiety I have found that it has pushed me to do many great things. It has pushed me to do things that perhaps I would not have done if I were not dealing with this.
As a little girl it made me very mature and responsible. I was always the one that adults trusted because I was always thinking about all the things that could go wrong which made me take extra precautions. I knew how to take care of myself which was a great feeling to have.
In high school I began to look at myself in a very critical way which was not such a good thing, but it did however, push me to do better. I ended up at the top of my class and I graduated early from High School. I was also able to get a job straight out of high school working in the school district (a well paying job with benefits), which was definitely not very common for a seventeen year old.
It has also led me to pursue my dreams almost impulsively. The anxiety often makes me feel like if I don’t act now, things wont happen. This has caused me to be the type of person that goes after what she wants with all she’s got. I am usually the one that gets things done and the one who peruses her passions.
For example, my passion for traveling. Ever since I was a freshman in high school and saw a show on the travel channel about Europe I became obsessed. I began learning about world travelers online and found out about a bunch of people that made traveling their lives. I found out about women who traveled the world on their own and I was totally blown away. I wanted to do that! I wanted to be like the self-confident people that threw themselves out there in world and made their journey across different countries meeting awesome people along the way. I wanted to experience the thrill of being immersed in a different culture, a different world.
Well, now that I have the means to travel, I have done my share of traveling. I’ve been to eight countries on this side of the world and have taken many road trips to different cities in the US. And now, I am about to make one of my biggest dreams a reality. I will travel to China for twelve days with a group of college students from across the US that I don’t know. I will be traveling on my own to the other side of the world and meet up with a bunch of people to explore an entirely different world.
This all happened because of one day when I was feeling particularly anxious about my life not moving fast enough and me not doing enough to make my dream come true of traveling the world. I went online, looked at different tour groups, and found this one tour with college students. After just a day of researching I was convinced it’s what I wanted and booked it.
When I came home that day, I greeted my family with, “Hi guys, how’s everyone doing? Guess what I am going to China for my birthday this year! I just booked it!!” Needless to say I was met with puzzled and shocked looks but that is usually how I am. If I want something I tend to go after it like a mad women because my anxiety often pushes me in that way.
Another example: As soon as I found out that my university offered possibility of completing the three months of student teaching requirement abroad, I was on top of it the very next day. I made an appointment with the guy in charge of the program and although it was way too early for me to start doing anything to get that started, he knew I was definitely a good candidate. I have met with him periodically ever since and have talked with many students that have completed the program. I have thoroughly researched it and have my foot in the door already even though I am still a semester away from being able to apply for it.
In life you have got to learn to take the good with the bad. Anxiety has not been an easy thing to live with. It has caused me a lot of troubles but that’s ok. It has helped shape me into the person I am today. It has pushed me to look deep into myself, which has led me to have a much better sense of who I am than most people my age. Now, it is pushing me to look at ways in which I can better take care of myself. Ways in which I can love myself more and live a happy life.
Anxiety has served a positive purpose in my life. Like so many other things in life, it is a double-sided coin. And with this I am not saying that I want to stop my quest to finding ways in which I can keep it under control. I am just simply trying to find the positive side to this. If you look hard enough, there is usually always something positive that can be taken away from most difficult situations. I am shifting my way of thinking when it comes to anxiety. Instead of seeing myself as being victimized by it, I am learning to see it as something that is serving a purpose to shape me into a better, stronger person.