High school is stressful for everyone. Especially senior year. It's a time of big decisions and becoming an adult. Senior year is especially difficult when paired with anxiety.
Throughout my junior and senior year I struggled with anxiety that manifested in physical symptoms: meaning that if I got even slightly worked up about something, I broke out in a cold sweat all over. Naturally, this crossed a few colors off of my wardrobe color wheel. Kinda hard to wear pastels when you're worried about sweat marks.
I had to be careful about what colors I wore and what fabrics I bought. Everything was either too thin or light colored. Shopping was a nightmare. I mostly wore black, dark blue, dark green, and other colors I knew would mask any discoloration. I tried the strongest antiperspirants I could find, even going so far as to visit a dermatologist. I was scared to shake hands because I knew my skin was clammy and I always had a jacket with me to cover up.
Around the same time I began to get into Marvel comics and movies. Even though Captain America was the first Marvel movie I saw in theaters, the X-Men were my first Marvel love. I watched the X-Men cartoons when I was younger and read the comics at my local library. I loved all the movies (yes, even the cringe-inducing original trilogy) and could rattle off the details of most of the alternate timelines found in the comics.
It was through the cartoons and comics that I was introduced to my favorite superhero: Rogue. She was a girl from a small southern town (like me!) whose powers meant she couldn't make skin contact with anyone without causing serious harm to them. She had to be careful with what she wore and shaking hands made her nervous. Sound familiar?
The more I learned about her, the more I realized that this was someone who had turned her insecurities into strengths. If she could be a hero with a watch-out-world-here-I-am attitude, why couldn't I? I read every Rogue comic I could find. I watched her pick herself up after every setback and eventually learn to control her power. She became one of the most powerful X-Men all by learning to control what made her insecure about herself.
While I didn't immediately learn control and I couldn't turn my anxiety off like a switch, I did learn to accept myself and take it one day at a time. I learned to live in the present without worrying about the future. I gained confidence and stopped limiting myself. It took a while, but the cold sweats stopped and now my wardrobe is bright and colorful, with plenty of green and yellow as a reminder of the comic book heroine who taught be to be comfortable in my own skin.
While I haven't become a superhero (yet!), I have become a bolder, brighter, happier version of me. Even though today I'm likely to be found sporting and Avengers shirt, the X-Men will always be special to be. Because through them, I learned to be fearless and become a better me. That's pretty heroic, don't you think?