What It's Like To Be A Thrill-Seeker Who Also Has Anxiety

What It's Like To Be A Thrill-Seeker Who Also Has Anxiety

A personal perspective to shed light on one reality of anxiety.

About a year ago, I went skydiving for the second time. Rather than feeling the understandable fear and apprehension that comes with jumping out of a moving airplane, I felt rather relaxed and peaceful, looking down over the rolling green landscape and anticipating the freeing moments of falling. Even the first time I'd done it, I never felt panicked or filled with dread. Certainly I felt a bit nervous, but the real fear part never actually hit me. I trusted the system and the experience not to let me down.

Several months earlier, you could have found me jumping off of cliffs into cold, dark water with my cousins, as we'd done the past several years. I'll ride any roller coaster, go whitewater rafting or zip-lining, boulder over steep rocks or rappel off of towers. Someday, I'd love to cage dive with sharks, scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef or hang over the edge of Victoria Falls in Devil's Pool.

Heights and speed don't bother me, and thrills are something I seek out, rather than avoid.

But I also struggle with day-to-day anxiety. I am someone who looks at a thrilling experience as nothing but exhilarating, but fear things most people never even consider.

As a result of a previous accident, I often panic as a passenger in a car. I feel anxious in small spaces or large crowds, interacting with large groups of strangers, and when I consider the thought that the people I care about may not care about me in return. My anxiety causes me to have bouts of inexplicable sadness, and sometimes makes me feel as though I've lost control of my own emotions or that I'll drive people away. I get intensely paranoid about things I know full-well are completely unrealistic, and sometimes lose sleep considering terrible what-ifs.

Anxiety is a personal experience. It can't be generalized or standardized among the thousands of people that have it. You can't look at me and say: "Everything makes you anxious or afraid," because that's so far from the truth. And just looking at me, you probably wouldn't have a clue what anxieties and thoughts may be running through my mind, but they're there nonetheless.

I never feel fully comfortable talking about my anxiety or trying to explain it, because in many ways, anxiety doesn't make sense. It's a spectrum, and it can vary hugely from person to person. There's also a sense of discomfort that seems to come when you say that you have anxiety. People still aren't sure exactly how to deal with it, what they can do to help and what might just make things worse.

Once again, this is impossible to pinpoint, as it can be different for every person. But I will say this: My anxiety doesn't make me fragile and breakable. My fears and emotions may not always make sense to you, or even to me–however, I'm trying to let them just be a part of my life, rather than completely command me, and hopefully one day they may be gone altogether. But in the meantime, I can still remind myself that fear won't always control me. Not as long as I'm watching sharks swim below me, zip-lining across a canyon, or jumping out of an airplane.

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I Woke up In The Middle Of The Night To Write About My Fears, They're Worse Than The Dark

One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.


It is one of those nights when I am tired, but for some reason, I can't seem to fall asleep. So, what do I do? I pull out my laptop, and I begin to write. Who knows where it will lead. It could lead to a killer article or something that does not make sense. I mean it is almost 2 A.M. In my mind, that's pretty late.

Anyways, let's do this thing.

Like many people, thoughts seem to pile up in my head at this time. It could be anything from a time when I was younger to embarrassing stories to wondering why I am "wasting" my time somewhere to thoughts about the future. All of these things come at me like a wildfire. One minute I'm thinking about what I want to do after college next thing I know I'm remembering the time I tried talking to a boy and choked on my spit.

The thought that is going through my mind as I write this is about the future. It's about the future of my fears. Let me explain. I have multiple fears. Some of my fears I can hide pretty well, others I am terrible at hiding. My fears may seem silly to some. While others might have the same fears. Shall we start?

1. My career

I don't know where to begin with this one. For as long as I can remember, my consistent dream job has been working in the world of sports, specifically hockey. A career in sports can be and is a challenging thing. The public eye is on you constantly. A poor trade choice? Fans are angry. Your team sucks? "Fans" are threatening to cheer for someone else if you can't get your sh*t together. You can be blamed for anything and everything. Whether you are the coach, general manager, owner, it does not matter. That's terrifying to me, but for some reason, I want to work for a team.

2. My family

Julie Fox

Failing with my family, whether that be the family I was born into or my future family, it terrifies me. I have watched families around me fall apart and I have seen how it has affected them. Relationships have fallen apart because of it. I have heard people talk about how much they hate one of their parents because of what happened. I don't want that.

3. Time

This could be a dumb fear. I'm not sure, but I fear time. With every minute that passes, I am just another minute closer to the end. With every day that passes that I am not accomplishing goals or dreams I have, I am losing precious time. It scares me to think of something horrible like "What if I die tomorrow because of something horrific?" or even worse, "What if I don't make it through today?" It's terrible, I know.

4. Forgetting precious memories

When I was younger, I had brain surgery. It is now much harder for me to remember things. I am truly terrified that I am going to forget things I will want to hold close to me forever, but I won't be able to. I am scared I'll forget about the little things that mean a lot. I'm afraid of forgetting about old memories that may disappear. I'm worried that I'll forget about something like my wedding day. That might seem out of this world, but it's a reality for me.

5. Saying "goodbye"

I hate saying bye. It is one of my least favorite things. Saying bye, especially to people I don't know when I'll see again, is a stab in the heart for me. I love my people so much. I love being around them. I love laughing with them. Thought of never having a hello with them again scares me beyond belief.

6. Leaving places that I love

Alright, let me start off by saying this- it takes a lot for me to love a place. It has to feel like home. It has to make me feel comfortable. It has to be a place I can go to and be myself. Thankfully, I have had and still have multiple places that are like that. I have also had places I could not wait to leave. I think that's why leaving places I love is so hard and something I fear so much. I am afraid I'll never get that place "back", for lack of a better term. I guess, I'm trying to say, it's like a piece of me is leaving as well.

These six things are just the start of my fears. Some of these might seem "dumb" or "ridiculous" to you, but for me, it's my life. These are the things that I think about the most. These are the things that feel like a pit in my stomach. These six things are parts of my life that mean a lot to me.

Cover Image Credit:

Emily Heinrichs

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An Open Letter to Soda

You're both good and bad, but you never fail to satisfy me.


Dear soda,

How do I even begin to describe my connection to you? I have shared countless moments with you that we're both my best and my worst. Above all, you fill me up better than water, milk and juice ever do. And even though you're as equally unhealthy as alcohol is (no offense), you're always the safer, if not the most refreshing choice. But even so, you give me more calories than I want in one meal, although burning off that kind of energy is second nature to me.

Before I lavish you with compliments and thank you for cooling me down on hot summer days, it's time to get the unpalatable truth about you and nutrition, soda. You're a primary reason why I'm not in the best shape of my life. Every time I try to have that extra little bit of muscle, you end up setting me back. It's so easy for me to crave for you, because of how delicious you are, and the sugar high you give me is absolutely amazing compared to what I get eating candy and all those other sweets.

I know it's really puzzling for a writer like me to be writing an open letter to a beverage, but you're actually a pretty big part of my life. Why? Because you don't just quench my thirst on hot days, or affect my upset stomach for better or worse, you give me just a smidgen more energy than coffee and tea do. The caffeine in you isn't good for me in the long run, but I need it on a regular basis so I don't zone out during my classes. Honestly, without you, I don't feel as uninhibited as I like to be.

What I love the most about you is that you come in numerous flavors, and even though it's scientifically proven to be ineffective and also tastes worse than gruel, you come in diet form. In every restaurant and cafeteria, you get your own fountain, and students like myself prefer to go there instead of the coffee machines. The hiss of fizz when I open you up makes my mouth water, chills go up my spine and I never resist that first taste of your sugary carbon. Out of all the flavors you offer, I love root beer, cream soda, grape, orange, ginger ale and Dr. Pepper the most. The possibilities with you are so endless.

Soda, the best thing you've ever done for is satisfy me when I didn't feel satisfied.

From one of your many friends,

Konner Donté Watson

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