I’ll get straight to the point: it’s not.
I don’t know you, and I don’t know your anxiety, but I know what it is like to be trapped inside the confines of your own mind. To be ruled by some unknown and unshakeable fear. To feel the ripples of dread pool inside your stomach. I don’t know you, but I know you are way more interesting than the demons that live inside your own head.
The cold hard truth is that anxiety is never interesting. Fear is the most boring thing in the world, if only because it is the one constant we have in this life. Circumstances may change, people come and go, but fear remains. And fear only has one thing to say to you: no.
No, do not apply to that job.
No, don’t talk to that boy over there.
No, don’t even bother dreaming about something else.
No, you will never deserve it.
No, no, no, no.
That’s all fear says. That’s the only story your anxiety is capable of telling. It’s doing whatever it can to keep you in this place, to convince you to stay here, to never leave, to never grow or dream or do or be.
I don’t know you, but I know that in your heart lives an infinite yes. There is a yes so big it is dying to get out. A yes that fills up your lungs and keeps you warm at night. A yes that you feel in every part of your body. A yes that tastes like freedom.
Now, that is interesting.
Where will you go? What will you do? Where is your yes taking you? And are you brave enough to follow it?
Those are the questions that define us. We live out our lives in their answers. That yes is what makes us interesting. We’re defined by our joys and our dreams and the people we eat breakfast with on Sunday mornings. We are defined by our roots and our community and our wings and our not yet written chapters.
We are not defined by the fear. We are not merely a byproduct of our anxiety. This isn’t your claim to fame. It’s not your identity. It’s not the thing that sets you apart.
I don’t know you, but I know what it’s like to embrace the label of neurotic. To wear your stress and your anxiety like some medal or badge of honor. Your anxiety serves you, doesn’t it? It’s the thing that’s always been yours. That makes you different. That makes you excellent. Those are the lies we tell ourselves. But the truth is that anxiety is ugly. I don’t care if it’s gotten you fame or success or a size 2 body, anxiety is irrefutably ugly. It is warts and all.
Maybe you’ve been told to embrace your anxiety, to learn to love and respect your fear. Maybe that’s why you hold it so close, why you wrap it up so tightly. I believe that you can, and you should, love that part of you. Appreciate it for what it’s worth. Put it on like an old garment you used to be fond of, but have since outgrown. But never think it’s your best material. Never let it have center stage.
I don’t know you, but I know that you are not your mental illness. You are not defined by your perfectionistic tendencies. Your anxiety isn’t interesting. You are so much more than that. You always will be. You always have been.
The truly interesting things in this world are the places, people and ideas that make our hearts say yes. The moments that make our souls shine. It’s the things we do when we feel heard and understood. The interesting things in life just flow. They feel good. They feel right.
Anxiety doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel good. It isn’t interesting. It is your captor. It is the one thing holding you back from the life that you’ve always wanted to live.
I don’t know you, but I hope that you will chase after that kind of life. I hope you will stop living in a place of no, of glorifying the chains that bind you to the things you’ve already outgrown.
I hope you start to say yes.