I’m dealing with anxiety. Which I find funny. I talk to strangers like they’re family, I’m first on the dance floor at weddings, and I’m more comfortable speaking on stage than reading a “how to” manual alone. Considering these facts, wouldn’t it seem I’m an “obvious extrovert”—someone who undoubtedly has no problem in social settings?
But I have this secret. I’m dealing with mad spells of anxiety and I don’t know how to deal with it.
After being in New York City for three years, I find myself suddenly getting nervous on the subway—what happens if I need to get out of here? I’m stuck in this tiny metal tube of transportation. Underwater. I freak.
I panic making idle chatter with co-workers before a big client meeting—where is this conversation going? Are they going to talk about something that involves blood or drugs, a subject that’s sure to make me uncomfortable, send my mind racing, my body hot and sweaty, until I ultimately pass out?
I know 99% of the time, it’s me, getting myself worked up. Yet, I don’t know how to deal with it.
I have a big work trip today. We’re flying from New York to Atlanta to visit some clients and thinking about the trip, I feel anxious. I’m confident in my job and love traveling. I don’t even have a fear of flying! So why the anxious feelings?
I’m not exactly sure. I have my theories: my sensitivity to certain conversational topics like blood and drugs, wondering when or how these topics could creep into any situation. My new-found discomfort around big crowds in tiny spaces: hello sharing a cab with coworkers and a ton of luggage. Feeling trapped in congested, hard to get out of places—I’m looking at you TSA security line.
I spilled these internal thoughts and fears onto my boyfriend after work yesterday.
“I’m so frustrated with feeling this way,” I said. “I’ve never had to deal with these feelings. This isn’t normally like me.” We talked more, and by we, I mean he listened while I rattled on and teared up a bit.
Then he looked at me and said something so softly and simply, had I been glancing in another direction, I might have missed it: “This is part of who you are, right now.”
This is part of you who you…right now.
He said a lot that helped me last night but that simple sentence fell into my heart and cozied up into a corner of it.
I believed that since feeling anxious isn’t normally like me, that I shouldn’t feel this way. I resisted it. Anxiety is not aligned with how I see myself. It feels a little tight in the sleeve. But his words made me realize it’s okay to welcome anxiety as a part of myself that wasn’t previously there. While anxiety may be part of who I am today, it won’t always be there. It does not define me. It will not continue to describe me like my brown eyes or morning person personality will.
Emotions, stresses, conditions, life circumstances—they all come and go. Letting go of my resistance to having anxiety in my life is the start to how I will be able to deal with it.
Whatever you’re going through right now—a dead end job, money stress, PMS, a broken arm, or a broken heart—embrace it as being part of you. Find comfort in knowing it’s short-term and it’s just for right now.
I’m a person struggling with anxiety but somehow my anxious nerves calm a bit when I reflect on how this is just part of who I am…right now.