In the past year, I learned something new about myself: I struggle with anxiety. If you knew me very well at all outside of an academic context, you would probably be surprised that I didn’t know this about myself. My anxiety has shaped my choices and behaviors on a fundamental level. I worry that I’ve hurt someone’s feelings; I worry that I’m not smart enough to achieve my goals; I worry that I annoy and frustrate my friends; I worry that I’m not good enough.
Being aware of these worries and being able to articulate them to myself isn’t fun–but it is helpful. In order to address my fears, I first need to be aware of what they are. And once I listen to myself and pay attention to my concerns, I can then point out the flaws in my logic. Yes I may be annoying, but that doesn’t mean that my friends won’t want to be my friends anymore. I may sometimes have a wrong idea, but that doesn’t mean that I’m totally incompetent. It is hard work for me to take all of these worries seriously. It’s a risky business. But I believe that it’s worth it.
Today, I had the opportunity to see how I’m growing in my anxiety. I had a little conflict with a coworker–a repeated issue that’s been stressing me out. But today, it hardly phased me. I had confidence that I had reasonable ideas and was acting reasonably, and I knew that I was able to change my mind if it was demonstrated that my ideas were flawed. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized how much I’d grown in this effortless way of addressing conflict. I was finally able to take my worth for granted, instead of needing to prove it to myself. I changed what the voice inside my head was saying about me.
Addressing my anxiety has not been fun, but it has definitely been worth the effort.