For a long time, anxiety convinced me to stay home, to stay quiet, to stay isolated. I felt awkward in every social situation. I never knew what to say. I stumbled over words and had trouble making direct eye contact. Whenever I heard someone laughing, I assumed they were laughing at me. I assumed everyone’s eyes were on me, judging me, which is odd, because at the same time I felt invisible, like I didn’t matter at all.
For a long time, my anxiety convinced me I was different. I never fit in with my classmates. I didn’t get along with people my age. I wasn’t interested in doing the same things they were doing. I preferred staying inside. I preferred reading. I preferred keeping my distance from them, because they made me feel like an outsider. Every day I spent at school, I counted down the seconds until I could finally be home again.
For a long time, my anxiety convinced me I would stay single forever. Whenever I developed feelings for someone, I convinced myself liking them was pointless. I told myself they would never feel the same way about me, because I had nothing worthwhile to offer them. Instead of getting to know them and testing our chemistry, I accepted defeat without putting myself out there.
Anytime I liked someone, I never let on that I cared. I acted like being on my own was better, because if I admitted I wanted someone to kiss and cuddle at night, then my loneliness would hurt more. But the truth was, it already hurt enough.
For a long time, my anxiety convinced me I didn’t have any friends. Whenever I spent a weekend on my own, lounging on the couch because I didn’t have any plans, I chalked it up to no one wanting to hang out with me. I never sent the first text because I didn’t want to bother anyone. Asking someone to hang out made me feel like I was overstepping my boundaries.
I figured that, if they wanted to talk to me, then they would initiate a conversation. So I waited for them to make the first move. I waited and waited and when my phone screen remained dark, I assumed no one cared. I jumped to the conclusion that my supposed ‘friends’ were only around for show. Maybe they pitied me or maybe they were using me — but either way, they wouldn’t care whether they never saw my face again.
For a long time, my anxiety convinced me I would never make something of myself. I didn’t think I would be able to reach the goals I daydreamed about every night before bed. I doubted my own capabilities. Instead of seeing my strengths, I could only see my weaknesses. I decided I was destined to fail. I decided someone like me would never end up succeeding.
For a long time, my anxiety convinced me I was unlovable — but I finally learned that is not the truth. There are people interested in me, even if I haven’t been on a date in a while. I have friends who love me, even if we don’t talk every single day. I am on track to completing my career goals, even if I keep moving forward slowly.
I finally realize am worthy of success. I am worthy of love. My anxiety cannot take those things away from me.