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.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: Original Photo

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I Drank Lemon Water For A Week And Here's What Happened

It has already changed my life.

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There are so many health crazes out there now, it's hard to tell what actually works and what doesn't; or more importantly what is healthy and what is making your body worse. I read about simply drinking lemon water and I figured that didn't sound gross or bad for me so I figured I would give it a try. I've been drinking it consistently for a week and a half and I already notice some results.

I've never been a fan of lemon in my water, I always refuse it at restaurants. You definitely have to find your sweet spot in lemon to water ratio, in what tastes good to you. I personally cut the lemon into quarters and use on quarter per day. I put the lemon quarter in the bottle and then continuously fill with water throughout the day. I still get the yummy lemon flavor all day because I do not squeeze the lemon. It took about a bottle or two to get used to the lemon flavor, and now I just crave it.

Lemon water is supposed to speed up your metabolism. Obviously, a week is not long enough to tell if this is fact or fiction but I have noticed a change in appetite. I feel like I do not get hungry as often as I did before. I saw this effect within 24-48 hours of starting the experiment. This seems opposite to a fast metabolism but we'll see.

I definitely feel more hydrated with lemon water. I drink a lot of water anyways, about 80 oz a day but for some reason with the lemon, it makes me feel better. I don't feel as sluggish, I'm not getting hot as easily, and my skin feels amazing. I am slightly skeptical though because the lemon almost makes my tongue dry requiring me to drink more water, so I have upped my intake by about 20oz. I'm unsure if the hydration is due to the extra water, the lemon, or both!

My face is clearing up and feels so much softer too, in only a week! I have not gotten a new pimple since I have started my lemon water kick, may be coincidence but I'm not going to argue with it.

I also feel skinnier as I feel like I'm not holding as much water weight. I only exercise lightly, for the most part, walking around a mile or two a day so we can eliminate exercise factor to the slender feeling.

I have a messy stomach. Everything upsets it, and even though lemons are very acidic, they have not affected me in a negative way at all. It almost seems like the lemon water is helping me digest the difficult foods that my stomach doesn't like. I'm nowhere near a doctor so don't trust my word but it seems to be working for me.

From the effects I've felt so far, it also seems like lemon water may be a great hangover cure! I haven't tried it but I don't see why it wouldn't work. I can't say a negative thing about drinking lemon water so far expect you have to buy the lemons! If you try this for yourself though just make sure you are using an enamel saving mouthwash or toothpaste since lemons aren't so great for your teeth.

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Learning How To Cope With Rejection

"We are stars wrapped in skin, the light you are seeking has always been within." - Rumi

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"Life sneaks up on us every once in a while and gives us something we didn't even know we wanted, and lights within us a love we didn't even know existed." - Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

I've never really been someone who needs other people to motivate me. Whether it was schoolwork, going to the gym, or trying new things, if I ever want to get something done, the motivation has to come from me. If I don't complete a task, I may try to pass the blame but deep down I know it's on me. However, knowing this about myself can sometimes be frustrating because often my eyes and dreams are bigger than I am willing to work for.

I can't count the number of times I have dreamt about a music career with stadium tours and platinum records or going to a top-tier university and getting the opportunity to create a successful start-up company. Sometimes the dreams will seem simple like planning every moment of my dream wedding or visualizing the day I have my first child. While all of those dreams would be amazing, I know they will not all come true. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

I realize now that I can create my dream life out of what I do have, not out of what I wish I had. As Rumi said "the light is within" and I just need to find it. I know that good things don't just get handed to you, you have to work for them. But my brain works a little differently. When something doesn't go my way, it if anything makes me work even harder.

In December of 2016, I found out I got rejected Early Decision from my dream school. Sad, mad, and generally disappointed, I avoided this topic of conversation with everyone. It felt like a summer of essay-writing, test-taking, and four years of hard work had been thrown out the window. But it motivated me. It made me want to achieve something to prove them wrong.

Of course in the way that I deal with most emotions, I wrote a song about it and, with the help of my sister, posted it on my YouTube channel. It was a productive way of dealing with the rejection. Now that I am almost halfway through my second year at Emory, I truly believe it was for the best because it lit a light within me that I don't think could have come from anywhere else.

The university that I thought was my dream school told me they didn't want me. I built a thick skin (or thicker skin) with their rejection and gained a lot of strength because I had to. I'm sure I'm not the only person they have taught this lesson to and I'm sure I won't be the last. My heartbreak gave me more strength than I could have imagined and still motivates me to achieve greater things, things I thought were only a part of dreams.

"I am going to make you so proud" -Note to self.

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