I haven't posted about anxiety in awhile. I think it's just because I've been doing well, so it's not really crossed my mind as much. Instead of overthinking things daily or bi-daily (if that's a word), it only happens when I'm doing something completely new.
I have focused on saying Yes to things that make me anxious because I know I'd benefit greatly from them. Usually after saying Yes to a coffee with a new friend, a dinner date, a business lunch, or a marketing event, I get worked up just thinking about the negative outcomes to the point where I consider canceling, as if just not going would be better than the possibility of a panic attack. I convince myself why it's not a big deal if I don't go. But let me tell you—this month I've gotten my ass to every scary thing I tried to talk myself out of (once my boyfriend may have forced me to go) and I've left afterwards on cloud nine.
Every time I do something that scares me, I leave in the best mood ever.
Last week a fitness YouTuber from Glasgow named Naturally Stefanie was doing a talk at Edinburgh University for Freshers Week. I wanted to see her but of course, so many things went through my mind:
- How small is the venue?
- Is it underground?
- What if I pass out?
- What if I need to leave because I feel faint or sick and it's distracting and she notices and thinks I didn't care to stay?
Just 5 minutes before the talk, I wanted to convince my boyfriend not to go. I planned it out in my head: "Oh, it'll all about vegan stuff. It's not a big deal. It'll be busy, we might not even get in without a ticket, etc.." but instead I told him "I'm nervous". Some people would baby me and say "It's okay, we don't have to go" but my boyfriend isn't like that. He thought I was joking because Stefanie is a mini-celebrity to us. Instead of barricading the door and pleading my case, I put on a brave face and we went to the talk.
Luckily, I was able to stand right near the exit and pay attention to Stefanie's talk without worrying. She answered questions about her fitness journey, veganism, and how to get started with weight-lifting. It was really informative and I was pleased to see how many people were there and curious to learn more about fitness.
Tip: learn little tricks that help ease you in triggering situations.
From practice, I've learned techniques to make scary situations easier. Instead of avoiding concerts, plays, lectures, and restaurants, I plan ahead. This might mean I have to tell my friends that it would be best if we can sit by the exit, which they are happy to do. I made the mistake of worrying not only about the event, but being an inconvenience to whoever I was with. I usually felt less anxious when I was in a situation alone than I did in the same situation with friends. I didn't want to let them down. This is how I learned who my true friends were. I've had friends in the past ditch me or ridicule me for my anxiety. I've had friends completely understand and be there for me. These friends are the true friends. But please remember this: It's your job to communicate. Do not expect your friends to know how to help you. You need to give them the tools to help you.
For example: If I'm anxious on the bus with my boyfriend, I used to say: "I'm really anxious" and freeze up as the panic took over. Now, I say: "I'm feeling a bit anxious. I think it's because it's crowded here and my stomach hurts. Can we talk about something to distract me?"
After Stefanie's talk, I beelined it past all the nervous freshers standing around awkwardly to Stefanie and had a nice chat with her. It made my week to talk to her! Not because she's famous in the Gymshark community, but because she was down-to-earth and gave me great advice for my blog.
something that scares and excites me coming soon...
In a week, I am flying to Chicago to volunteer at Forefront, a conference for entrepreneurs. I had to apply for a position and my anxiety did the same thing it always does: makes me irritable and tries to convince me of reasons why it's not a big deal if I don't do it. The truth was, I was just afraid. But I told myself not to overthink this and just submit the video application. If I get accepted, I'll go from there.
A few weeks later, I got accepted and I've decided to go! It's a huge opportunity I can't pass up. Luckily I'll have my sister with me, but I'm lying if I say I'm not really nervous. I constantly have to remind myself that I am a strong person and that if I did have a panic attack, the other volunteers would understand.
My "What ifs?" are immediately followed by "Does it matter?" -- No, it doesn't!
I'm excited for Forefront for many reasons—to learn, to meet cool people, to experience something new, to meet Ramit Sethi, and also, to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. This is going to be an exercise for my mentality. (I don't want to say anxiety anymore, I'm so sick of that word.) Forefront is going to show me how important taking a risk is. I know that I will leave Forefront extremely happy and inspired. The fact that I've predicted that outcome over a negative one is proof that I've come a long way.
Anxiety is hard and it doesn't just magically go away, but as we get older and we understand the way the world around us works and we understand our values, anxiety gets easier to deal with. For example, I don't care nearly as much about judgments from random girls as I used to in high school. Right now I'm reading The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy by Donald Robertson and it's teaching me the connection between stoic philosophy and CBT. Anxiety arises from a way of thinking and philosophy teaches us to understand that thinking and how to change it. More on this to come.
Comment below and tell me something you're doing soon or want to do soon that excites you and scares you. I'll provide you with some motivation!