I had my first panic attack while giving a speech during my sophomore year of college. The snapping of the strings in my vocal cords was a slow and insidious process that robbed me of the capacity to express my thoughts and emotions. I didn’t talk a whole lot after that, because I was feeling as if there was a constant choking sensation in my throat and a hesitation dribble in my mind.
Slowly I started to find my way back, and these were the things I had to constantly remind myself to get better each day.
1. Don’t let the voices of doubt drown out your natural voice.
Inside of you is a tape recorder. Every day you record sound bites from other people, but mostly you’re talking to yourself inside of your head all day long. You could even be talking to yourself while you’re talking to other people and not even paying attention to them.
You to yourself: Dude she’s out of your league.
Cute girl: Hey.
You to yourself: Stop being so awkward this is awkward oh my god
Cute girl: …
You to yourself: Oh my god one second of silence, you better leave now
You’d be a pretty shitty friend if you said this stuff to a friend right? Our relationship to this world is the most important aspect of life, but our relationship with ourselves is what allows us to live.
2. Don’t worry about being liked.
Whether or not we will be liked is beyond our control, and yet we always worry about it as if it was the most important thing on earth.
If I say this, what would they think? How would they react? Will this make them unhappy? Will this make me unpopular or disliked? These kinds of thoughts create a hesitation in the head like a dj spinning a record back and forth and all you hear is that scratching sound.
We all have a compulsion to be liked, I get it. But does it matter so much that you will give up your voice so that something beyond your control can be artificially inflated to your liking?
3. Just say it.
“You do or you don’t or you will or you won’t cha.” “There is only this one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you just capture it, or just let it slip?”
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. We just have to make a decision-“who we’re going to be, what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it”. And just do it.