I live with anxiety in close quarters. I feel it beating beneath my heart, questioning everything and everyone I love. I feel it in my stomach like a pit of dread— for the anxiety and for the things that anxiety has tainted for me. I feel it in my head like somebody reached into my brain and jumbled up my brain like a handful of electrical cords.

In its presence, I hear what it would say if it could talk. My anxiety tells me that I'm lazy. It tells me that my friends don't really like me. It tells me that what I want isn't worth the stress. My initial reaction to things that scare me has always been to turn my back. The problem with anxiety is you can't walk away from it. You can't push it, ignore it, or run from it. So I talk my anxiety through its issues until nothing seems so overwhelming anymore. You know what they say: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

My anxiety is manageable. I have learned when to push myself and when to give myself a break. Call the pizza guy. Don't go out tonight if you don't want to. Follow the things that scare you. Avoid the people who exhaust you.

What's harder for me to understand is this: what I am supposed to do about the anxiety that sits with the people I love? Do I push them in the name of caring? Do I stay a sanctuary of safety and kind words for them to return to?

I have learned that anxiety is different for everyone, and in turn, everyone must deal with it differently. I can't answer these questions for them. I can't choose how they deal with their anxiety. But I can learn from it.

Being friends with anxiety has taught me patience, for myself and for others. We work through our thoughts at different paces. I move too fast and try to skip the hard parts, like fast forwarding through the conflict in a movie. Some people slow down, procrastinating the inevitable. And when my quickened judgement meets the perceived sluggish, I get antsy. So I learn the art of patience a little bit more every day.

Mistakes are a part of growing up. Anxiety just makes my mistakes seem like I will never know how to grow up. So I tell my anxiety to quiet down because I'm the one growing up.