I am a 23 year-old woman. I am a younger sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, an employee, and a girlfriend. I consider myself to be pretty normal. I went to college. I have a “big girl” job. I have an apartment. I have amazing friends and family. I also have a weight on my shoulders that is extremely hard to lift. And that weight is anxiety.
I remember the exact moment my anxiety began. I can pinpoint the classroom I was in when I began to feel anxious, the teacher I had, the grade I was in, the excuse I made as to why I was acting weird… everything. I’ve learned how to deal with it… but the ways I deal with it really alter my lifestyle. Anxiety controls my life. Here are 6 reasons why:
1. Plans with friends.
When making plans with friends, I always have to consider my anxiety first. I need to make sure I have somewhere to go in case anxiety creeps up on me. There are plans I can’t make, places I don’t like to go, and things I don’t like to do all because I know I won’t be able to keep my anxiety relaxed.
2. Important life events.
There are things in life everyone has to do, like graduating or getting married. Events in life that may not scare other people… terrify me. I have made it through three graduations; college was the worst. I was terrified the entire time that I would have to get up and leave, in front of everyone. My wedding day is another fear. Having to be somewhere at a certain time in front of so many people, where I am the center of attention really worries me.
Trying not to deal with my anxiety at work is hard sometimes – I have a lot of meetings and expectations. I want to do the best work I can, but my anxiety sometimes limits me and my work. I have to set aside a little time for myself to deal with my anxiety, and doing that at work makes me feel like I’m jeopardizing my job.
4. Long road trips.
I always have to make sure the route we’re taking has stops on the way. It’s something I hate having to deal with, but in order for me to feel comfortable, it’s something that has to be done. I don’t like feeling like I’m trapped in a car—especially with people I’m not close with or people who aren’t familiar with my anxiety.
5. Getting a boyfriend.
Before I started dating my current boyfriend, it was so difficult for me to ever want to get comfortable enough with a guy to let him know about my anxiety. I couldn’t picture dating someone who didn’t understand it. And how could someone actually love me when I put my anxiety as my #1 priority? Some days, it does get hard. But I love my boyfriend for being able to just “get it.” He makes me feel accepted, and for that I am truly thankful.
Whenever I’m around people I don’t know, in a situation where I’m not sure if I’ll be able to just get away, it worries me. Especially since they don’t know anything about my anxiety. When I was meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time, we went to his cousin’s house for a birthday party. He will never know it, but that day was terrifying for me. I was in a house full of people I didn’t know – he was the only person I felt comfortable with, and he was busy talking with family. I felt like there was no way out.
I don’t want to feel anxious, but it’s something that I’ve had to learn to live with every day. It’s scary to know that I’m living in a world surrounded by people who have no idea what I’m going through. I know my anxiety frustrates other people sometimes; it gets in the way of a lot of things, but it is important for everyone to know that I can’t control it. My anxiety is not who I am. I am Kelsey. I am a 23 year old woman. I am a younger sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, an employee, and a girlfriend.