My anxiety is something I don’t talk about massively. I have become more open about it now I know there’s an actual term to explain the irrational feelings I get. But I do still struggle, and it leaves a lump in my throat whenever I explain it.
I can’t exactly remember when it started. I was incredibly shy as a child. I didn’t speak until I was four. Which a lot of people find hard to believe because I am relatively talkative nowadays. I remember it growing a lot in my teenage stages, as I was very much an awkward so-and-so in high school.
But I have this constant fear whenever I am placed in unfamiliar situations, or whenever I feel that I am not good enough in some shape or form. And it sounds dumb to write down or tell people, because of course a lot of people don’t like the unknown or don’t like criticism.
For me though, I feel it on another level. I go sick to my stomach, I can’t breathe, and I can’t really speak because I know if I do I’ll probably start crying. I go quiet and monotone when with other people. Then when I’m on my own, if my anxiety is just bubbling over… I broke a mirror the other week in such frustration. Which is incredibly unlucky if you’re into superstition.
It affects my outlook on my university work. I got a grade back the other week, and I completely melted down over it because I was so upset it wasn’t good enough in my eyes. One of my university lecturers said to me the other day that he thought I felt I was above his criticism. I told him that it’s just because I’m defensive over my work. My responses to his critiques are just clipped and stiff because of my anxiety about not being good enough. But obviously, I couldn’t tell him that.
At the weekend, I was doing work experience with my local newspaper. I was in a taxi going to interview some firefighters, and I was feeling anxious both because I was scared I’d do a terrible job and because it was a completely new situation. But I got out the taxi. I took a deep breath, and turned up my journalism mode. And you can read the article here.
It’s so difficult to explain, and I’m feeling a lot of mixed emotions writing this. I was trying to explain it to my boyfriend, as he was with me when I broke down about my grade. He asked what he could do to help, and I said the best thing is just to hold me. My anxiety is something I am just learning to deal with, and I must come to terms with it myself.
But I am finding ways to overcome it. Coming to university has especially helped boost my confidence. At the start of the year, one of the speakers in a welcome talk said to ‘Just say yes’ to every opportunity you find. And I have taken that advice with great vigor, and I have gained such great experience for both my journalism career and just for myself in general.
I will never let it hold me back. Because deep down, beyond the anxiety, I know the only way is up.