I really don't like to talk about myself. I like talking about what I've accomplished or things I'm proud of, but I don't like to talk about what I go through on an almost daily basis. I feel like it makes me seem weak--and who wants to get advice from a future psychologist who can't even help herself? But I think it's time to share with all of you what I've learned from having an anxiety disorder for almost eight years of my life.

Honestly, I can't tell you the lessons I learned before high school; but I can share some of the things I've learned from freshman year until now, almost 3 and a half months until I graduate high school. One of the biggest lessons I've learned would have to be that you can't let people's words hurt you. Even if they say you take everything too seriously or you're too sensitive, you just have to remember that it's not your fault at all. You cannot help that your brain tells you to take the context of someone's words into a whole new meaning. You cannot help that you feel pained from them telling you that you're too sensitive, or that you need to stop getting so offended about every little thing that bugs you. Listen, I understand that I'm sensitive--there's a good side to that and a bad side to that. The good thing is that I care about a lot of people (contrary to popular belief, apparently), but the bad thing is that I think about a single sentence for three, four, five hours.

Another thing I learned from my anxiety was that you can't let people stop you from doing what you love the most. I can't tell you how many people have criticized me for writing my articles, "friends" even. They say that I take things too far or that I care too much. But how can someone care too much? I want to dedicate my life to helping people get through the same things that I have gone through--caring "too much" is definitely not in my vocabulary. Often times, I thought about quitting my creative writing hobby. But I don't think I will ever quit sharing my feelings and thoughts on particular subjects just because someone doesn't like what I have to say. If you don't like it, don't worry about it. And I know people think it's weird that I'm down at the counseling office almost every week to help with the bullying and mental health awareness motive, but I learned to stop caring and to do my own thing. I've learned to not let what people think--I know that what I am doing within this school is benefiting at least one person and that's all I need to know for self motivation. You should never stop doing what you love to do just because someone else doesn't like it.

You also cannot waste your tears on worthless crap. Use your tears for happiness, not for someone who never did and never will give a shit about your feelings. Forget them and move on with your life. If you know what kind of person you are deep down inside, you do not need validation from anyone else to tell you who you are or what you need to change about yourself. I've made the mistake too many times of apologizing for something I didn't do. I'm over that from this point on. It screwed me up by doing that and now I'm trying to build myself up again.

The last valuable lesson I've learned from having anxiety is that you can't be friends with people who try to change you. It's not healthy. Yes, I've made my mistakes of not being a good friend, but I can own up to this. But I should not be constantly reminded of a moment where I messed up, people should be able to grow up and forgive and forget. I've done my apologies, I've said what I needed to, and if people are still on me about something we've already discussed, I've come to the conclusion that they just want to pick a fight and create drama. I don't have the time or the patience for that. As my mom once said to me, "It's better to have 4 quarters than 100 pennies." I agree with this so much - it can be of greater value to have a small, kind group of friends than to have many, valueless friends.

As easy as it is to push your feelings off to the side and say "I'm fine," you have to come to a point in your life where you must be honest with yourself and others. It can sometimes make the problem better or, at least, make you feel better about yourself. If you're going through something similar, just know that you will learn valuable lessons from it that you will have with you for the rest of your life.