Occasionally, those days when you question your entire life plan roll around and they're the most anxiety-inducing, gut-wrenching, heart-pounding experiences of insecurity that a person can go through. Now imagine what it’s like to tackle that on a weekly basis, because that’s what it’s like to live with anxiety (for me, anyway).
It’s important to make a distinction between having anxiety, however intense it may be, and having an anxiety disorder. We often blow symptoms out of proportion through self-diagnosis via Web MD, causing those with an actual disorder to get lost in the masses and not realize that they have a health issue that’s both completely understandable and treatable. Simultaneously, though, this is not to dismiss the distressing effects that anxiety has on the body and mind for those with serious cases that do not qualify as disorders, only to address the long unrealized discrepancy. Having not received verification from a physician, I would not be so bold as to place myself in the former group.
Regardless, recently, my fit of anxiety was spurred by a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art, which was ending its feature exhibition of Jackson Pollack’s work after four months. So, of course, everyone decided to go this past weekend. To paint a picture of what such a crowd is like for those without social anxiety, my mind felt busier than the abstract pieces of art that I was viewing and more distorted than the expressionist movement in totality. My sweat was not a result of the many bodies in a small space nor my short breath due to a lack of oxygen in the air, but because my brain couldn’t handle the overwhelming amount of faces glancing at me or the fear of someone asking me what I thought of a painting.
All of this turned into an overwhelming period of questions regarding whether or not I’m on the appropriate career path, considering the extroverted nature of journalism, or if I’ve unwisely settled upon New York as the correct dream location for my future. Such a snowball effect is all too recognizable for those with anxiety, as you can’t stop the irrational self-deprecation, no matter how hard you try.
I’m not writing this article to garner sympathy or to gain attention. I’d like to say that it’s because I want others in similar positions to see it and feel reassured that there are innumerable individuals who are going through the same crises regularly, but, to be entirely honest, it’s out of purely self-interested intentions for a cathartic release.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my responsibilities of serving my chapter on the executive board, leading SMU’s Odyssey branch, and the countless hours of homework for my two majors, but there comes a point for everyone in college when they need to sit down and re-evaluate their plans and priorities. Whether that occurs once as an undergrad or like clockwork every week or day, as someone so kindly pointed out to me, you’re not any less capable than your peers or alone in these times of self-doubt.