It's possible to overcome anxiety.

I never thought that I would be able to write those words and actually believe them.

Now, I'm not referring to your everyday, run-of-the-mill anxiety, like when you get nervous over taking a big exam or dread having to talk on the phone. I'm talking about real anxiety that you can feel in every nerve of your body, the type that makes you break out in a sweat, blurs your vision, and speeds up your heart rate. Anxiety that springs from the most normal and common situations. Anxiety that is always lurking in your shadow, waiting to take you by surprise. Anxiety that twists your sense of self and damages your ability to live the life you want. That's the anxiety I'm talking about.

Anxiety is an old friend of mine - well, more like an old enemy. I was always shy growing up (note: being shy and being anxious are not the same thing) but I didn't begin experiencing constant nervousness until I hit my middle school years. Throughout the course of a typical school day, I would encounter situation after situation that would make my heart feel like it was about to burst out of my chest and make my stomach feel like it was tied up in knots. My anxiety only worsened in high school.

Something changed my senior year of high school, though: I stopped caring about what people thought of me and instead starting living my life in accordance to my own ideals. Groundbreaking, I know. I started to develop more confidence in myself, which helped out considerably when it came to pretty much everything. I don't even think I consciously realized what I was doing, but slowly things that once caused me to panic now only resulted in mild discomfort. Things only improved once I began going to college. I am now doing things that once seemed impossible.

I still consider myself an incredibly anxious person, and there are still plenty of times where I can physically feel my anxiety crippling me. But looking back on how I use to be, I am in awe of how much progress I have made and the things that I am able to achieve now that I don't let my anxiety get in the way of living my life.

Anxiety isn't something that simply vanishes. You don't struggle with it for years just to wake up one morning and feel as peaceful, content, and confident as can be. That would be awesome, but sadly that's completely unrealistic. Gaining the upper hand when in comes to your anxiety is a gradual process that spans years, and even then the end goal is not that, eventually, your anxiety will go away. As I asserted before, anxiety is something that likes to hide sometimes. I believe that anxiety is something that I will battle my whole life. The goal, in my eyes, is to make it a battle in which you are almost always on the winning side.

I think it's important to realize that having anxiety doesn't make you weak. Though I don't think we should be bragging about it, I also believe that we shouldn't be ashamed by having anxiety either. I'm not ashamed. I will always be an anxious person. It's just another one of the many traits that, as a human being, I possess. However, I refuse to let this one thing define who I am and completely shape my life. No matter how difficult it might seem, it is possible to lessen your anxiety's control on your life. I'm living proof.