I have struggled with anxiety for about 8 years now. It started in the 7th grade as test anxiety with me overthinking on every exam and me forgetting all of the information that I had spent hours studying for. It then bled into me overthinking about everything else going on in my life. When I started to care about what people thought of me, it was the reason why I had developed a lot of insecurities.
Over time, I have learned to manage my anxiety and some days are easier than others. My anxiety creeps up on me somedays and there are days when it is the only emotion I am feeling because something triggered it. It comes in different forms. There are days when I feel jittery and on edge. There are other days when I am up late at night thinking about everything, processing everything, and I cannot fall asleep. Some days my body isn’t hungry and I force myself to eat because I know I need food.
My anxiety can get triggered by many things. Ironically, a lot of it gets triggered by social situations and I get nervous being around or talking to new people. I say ironically because I am known for being an outgoing person, but I struggle being in big groups of people in a non-professional-esq environment. For that reason, if there is a “big” social event coming up I will stay up all night thinking about the “what ifs” and predicting how it will go. For that reason, I don’t sleep well the night before. Another thing that can trigger my anxiety other than taking exams, is doing something brand new or being vulnerable to a lot of people. Going abroad for the first time triggered my anxiety because I was leaving everything I knew. Starting college triggered my anxiety, going to Prom triggered my anxiety, meeting people who I feel a need to impress socially triggers my anxiety, and those are the basic ones.
I’ve mentioned how being vulnerable to a lot of people can trigger my anxiety. When I open up about something that I am rather guarded about or am processing to either the internet or something else, my anxiety goes through the roof. This past semester, I was sharing about an organization I worked with to my sorority and I was visibly shaking because I was so anxious. Also, I was being vulnerable in what I was sharing, and I was showing this side of me that not many people see at all. I’ve shared blog posts about things that maybe 10 people outside of my family know about me and the night before I post it, I get anxious. I worry about the feedback and the response and if it will be well-received or if I was being too vulnerable on the internet.
Sometimes thinking about a specific set of people can trigger my anxiety. Whether it’s thinking back to a memory, an inside joke, seeing their names on social media, or anything else that reminds me of these people, I get anxious. It triggers this emotional response where I overthink and become insecure in everything I am doing. I go down this rabbit hole of questions and it never works out well for me.
I’ve learned how to distinguish my anxiety acting up versus other feelings. The biggest thing for me is the triggers. I know what triggers my anxiety and over time I have learned how to deal with it. Am I perfect? Ha! I am far from perfect, I am still learning, growing, and changing as a person.
The three best ways that have helped me manage my anxiety is by talking to my friends, journaling, and filming video entries to myself. The commonality with my anxiety is that I overthink and too many thoughts race through my mind. It triggers other things to happen when I try to suppress my anxiety, and it ends up not working well for me. Anything that I can do to get these thoughts off of my chest help me. I started filming videos to myself within the past year or so. I did it because I was simply too exhausted to journal or the thought of being in front of my computer didn’t sit well in my stomach. There is something nice about it and it helps. Usually, I delete the videos right away.
If the thoughts are racing too rapidly through my mind and I can’t put them into words because I am overthinking so much, I do a couple of things. I watch something on my laptop. I crochet (I am currently learning) or I pick up a new skill, I answer questions within these books I have. One book is where I answer a question every day for 5 years, the other is 3,000 questions about myself. Sometimes I will go for a drive and jam out to music. Other times, I curl up into a ball and cry because I have learned that it is okay to cry, or I lay on my bed and look out the window. When I am home in New York, I live on a beach and there are times where I sit outside and think as the waves crash onto my feet. I do each of these things to slow down my mind and let it process whatever I am anxious about.
Point is, I don’t let my anxiety control me. My life will go on, and I am fortunate enough to have an eventful life where I can get whisked away in the chaos of it sometimes. As I get older and more mature, I am learning how to manage it better because it will always be a part of me. If my anxiety is stemming from a fear, I go and face my fear. It is scary, but one of the ways we grow as people is by facing our fears.
I mentioned earlier how my anxiety can come from me wanting to impress certain people. During my sophomore year of college, that is all I tried to do with almost everyone in my life. I was not staying true to who I was, and I was inauthentic to them. The worst of my anxiety and insecurities came from me wanting to impress those people. I was not confident in who I was, and I didn’t see what I had to offer. To those people, if you’re reading this I am sorry for not being myself around you guys. Now, I’ve learned that when I feel that need to impress people, I remind myself of the amazing, strong, independent, and confident woman I am today. I remind myself of everything that I have to offer as a friend, a person, and anything else. My anxiety will always want to impress people, but I’ve learned that I don’t need to do that. Ultimately, I know who I am, what I stand for, and I am confident in that. My anxiety will always be a part of me, and so will my confidence.
To anyone, who's made it this far first off thank you. Second, if you guys ever need someone to talk to my Instagram DMs are always open and I am always available for a Zoom Coffee Talk if you need it. Anxiety can suck, but each of you are so strong.
@dayswithdebois on Instagram.