There Are Some Secrets To Living With Anxiety That No One Tells You About

There Are Some Secrets To Living With Anxiety That No One Tells You About

It really kills you from the inside out, trust me.

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I love the definition of the word anxiety. I love how the dictionary has no emotional sense of how much this one simple word can affect your life and how you think other people may see you. In the dictionary or even through Google searches, it defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."

What a simple ambiguous definition! Unfortunately, the dictionary does not know a certain thing about anxiety. What's funnier is that the online dictionary divides the definition of anxiety into different sections: a noun, and a term deemed by psychiatry.

In fact, people assume that if you have anxiety, you need therapy or you need to go to the psychiatrist for some SERIOUS help. I mean, it is true, I'm not gonna deny it. I for one have anxiety and I spend every living second of my life wondering what it would be like if I didn't have it. Would I stop worrying about everything every single second? Would I stop overthinking about stupid things that won't affect my lifestyle? Would I stop doubting my worth? Would I stop believing what everyone says, and what I think people think or judge about me?

I don't know. I really have a hard time knowing because I have anxiety. Anxiety is like this creepy-crawler that won't stop crawling into the holes of my body, haunting and messing with my head. It never leaves; it just wiggles in and then wiggles out, and appears every single time I have one small belief in myself.

Say I'm performing in front of the class during a class presentation and I'm reading off of the notes on my notecard feeling quite pleasant, there would then be a short hiatus in which I freeze and then forget everything. It's funny. Everything is written on my index card, it's just the words won't come out.

My mind then shuts down, and everyone in the audience starts to look like monsters with devil horns and squinty eyes. I then start shaking and my hands immediately start sweating a mile a minute. The few words coming out of my mouth sounds like quiet stutters and shy whimpers. I hear a few chuckles here and there as I can't bear to look up. It was one of my worst anxiety attacks, one of which I pretty much paused for five minutes just staring at the card, not knowing how to read.

Another anxiety attack experience would be during my final piano recital performance at Carnegie Hall where I completely blanked. It was a situation which I thought I would have handled pretty well, if not for my anxiety. I had practiced the piece several times at home and memorized it without any errors.

It began smoothly in the room with the audience, and the piece was memorized, but the accuracy got interrupted by a single noise: a baby crying. Somehow, that baby was the point of my downfall. I suddenly found myself repeating the same music interval, and thought to myself, damn it, I knew this part. Because I did not have my sheet music in front of me, I had nothing to base it off of. All I could do was just stare at the piano notes and panic.

I tried to play the same interval so that I could somehow remember the rest of the notes that went along with it, but it did not work. Even worse, my parents in the front row were super disappointed, I could feel their disapproving eyes glaring at me. Even worse, my piano teacher had to go up herself and whisper in my ear, telling me to just repeat the first half of the theme of the piece to make do for a good ending just to redeem myself. Even now, I can hear her regretful tone.

If you're born with anxiety, it grows the more you age. But if you're not, you're one of the lucky few until it hits you when you reach puberty or when you get to a certain age. If you have stage fright, you most likely have some form of anxiety. If you overthink, you also have some anxiety. Unfortunately for me, I've always had anxiety. Obviously, when I was young, I didn't know what it was, and I never knew that it affected my life to a certain degree.

Until I got to high school, I knew it took a toll on me. During tests, I would have a blanking phase where I forgot formulas. At home, my self-esteem in doing something would suddenly die and drop down to zero, convincing myself that I was nothing. At school, I would sometimes feel as if my own friends were talking shit behind my back, and all of their compliments were just backhanded and ingenuine.

I didn't think it was happening to anyone else, and so I kept it silent for years. I always thought I was different, so I felt if I told anyone about it, they would judge and look at me with a weird expression on their face. I didn't want anyone to know, so I tried so hard to fit into society's norms. But I still stood out.

Up to this day, I know my anxiety is always gonna be there. And even though it always will be there, I know if I surround myself with the right kinds of supportive and loyal people, they will help me learn to overcome my fear of anxiety overpowering my life. It had for a short amount of time until I knew I had to fight back somehow.

And this time, I believe I can overcome it. Not completely, but a little bit of it.

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.
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My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?



The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.


Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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What It's Like To Have Social Anxiety

It's more than just being shy.

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Growing up, I always just thought I was a shy person. In elementary school, I realized I had a speech impediment or a stutter. I had my mom order for me at restaurants for a pretty good amount of time, I absolutely hated speaking in front of people, and I never really spoke in class unless I got called on. Even that, I dreaded.

As I got older, my stuttering got better. However, I began to notice it would get worse at times where I was nervous or anxious around people. For years, I didn't really think that much of it.

Until things weren't getting better.

Looking back, I can see that around the age of 16 is when my social anxiety really started to make a big impact on my life. It's natural for people to get a little bit of anxiety when doing presentations. But I would have full-blown anxiety attacks in my seat before I had to get up in front of my class.

I vividly remember in my English class junior year, being in the middle of speaking during an in-class debate and suddenly being so out of breath.

I started pausing every few words to try and take deep breaths, but I would look at my classmates and my heart began to race. I just kept thinking to myself, "I'm making a fool out of myself" and "I wonder if they can tell I'm shaking". That's what it was like for me every time I had to get up in front of people. I hated the feeling of being vulnerable.

Another incident happened in class where I was texting my mom that I was having an anxiety attack and couldn't breathe, all because I had to get up in front of my class a recite a short poem.

Soon, my social anxiety started affecting other aspects of my life, not just school. When I got my first job at 16, I was a hostess at a restaurant. On the way to my first day, I called my mom in my car crying because I didn't want to have to talk to strangers or answer the phone. I was afraid of messing up or sounding dumb and what other people would think. I didn't want to embarrass myself. 3 years later, I'm still at the same restaurant where I'm now a server and have never left this place because I've built up security there. I'm too afraid to get a new job because I would have to start all over.

Even to this day, I struggle immensely with social anxiety. Being a freshman in college is a major adjustment for me because I'm not used to doing things by myself. I mean, it was only this past summer that I went to a public place by myself for the first time. It's challenging because a lot of the time, doing everyday things make me incredibly anxious.

A lot of people don't understand the mental strength it takes for someone with social anxiety to go out by themselves. I can't speak for others, but I know that for me it's embarrassing to get so anxious about it. There have been multiple times this past semester that I haven't eaten because I've been too afraid to get food by myself, even at a vendor.

To help others understand, I always compare it to the feeling you get when you're walking up the stairs at your house in the dark. You feel like there's someone watching you even though you know there isn't. that's what it's like to go out in public. I know people aren't looking at me, but I feel like every single pair of eyes is on me. Watching my every move, saying things to themselves.

Even though every day is a struggle, I am making small steps towards being able to control it. But a big part of that is having people around me who know that I'm not just shy or antisocial. I want to go out and have fun. It just takes a little time.

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