Anxiety. For those who don't deal with anxiety on a daily basis, anxiety is similar to the feeling of missing a step on the stairs or almost falling backward when you're tipping your chair, except that all the time. When you answer a question in class, even if it's correct. When you have to order at a fast food place and mess it up. It never goes away. It's an ice bath on your spine and hellfire on your skin. Basically, it sucks. Many people may think that they have anxiety; the nerves, the sweating, the pounding heart, but they really are just anxious. That happens to everyone, however, anxiety threatens to disrupt everyday life by having these feelings when doing the simplest of tasks or when you cannot do regular tasks because it causes so much fear.
So I decided that I wasn't going to let it mess with me anymore.
It's the beginning of my senior year in high school with things are going regularly with athletics and academics, but it was time for something new. I decided to take charge and make senior year my bitch. The fall play was coming up, close friends of mine who were in the drama department have been telling me to audition since we were freshman, but I could never build up the courage to audition. Everyone looking at me? Hell no. Until this year.
"F*ck it," I told myself and put my name down on the audition list. About a month later, I was in and I couldn't get out of it even if I wanted to. But I didn't want to this time because I was determined to follow through and overcome this unbridled anxiety that threatened to ruin my life. One step at a time. So I acted in the fall play, quite well if I may say so. Four different shows that had four different outcomes. Four different times where an auditorium full of people witnessed any mistakes that I made, every time I missed a line, messed up a cue, or mispronounced a word, but I took it head on. By the time the last show was upon us, the anxiety was gone and if we messed up, specifically if I messed up, I kept going without a hitch. I made my mistakes fun, even if it meant that when I tripped on stage, I just dragged myself dramatically to my spot, earning laughs from the audience. Taking that risk has given me lifelong friends, lifelong memories, and a lifelong partner. Freshman me would have probably fainted on the spot of being in the school play let alone hearing what else was going to happen the rest of the year.
Fast forward to second semester; I have an application in my hands. Not a college application, a graduation speaker application. Speaking at graduation was going to be my final act of taking down my anxiety, but first I had to get in. So I write my speech and present it in front of a group of teachers, thankfully, the ones with whom I have good relationships with. It goes well and I wait for results. It comes at softball practice where I excitedly tell my best friend and go on with my day. Now it's time for the big show.
Writing the speech was the easy part. Getting up on the stage, even in front of empty chairs, induced the anxiety. The ice bath and hellfire washed over me, my knees went weak, arms were heavy, and I'm thankful that I didn't throw up mom's spaghetti, but there was no turning back. I got up on that stage, in front of a packed gymnasium and gave a damn good speech that put an end to anxiety ruling my life.
Of course, I still have anxiety, it's always going to be a part of me. But I am no longer that freshman who is scared to raise their hand in class. I don't particularly like to, but it does not send me into a panic attack anymore. I can talk to strangers without getting sweaty palms and a shiver down my back. I put my foot on the throat of anxiety and won't take it off until I'm dead, I will not let it control me.