Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been outgoing, happy and loved being around people. I love talking to strangers, I love learning new perspectives and I love experiencing new places and cultures. There really is so much more to life than what we experience on a day-to-day routine basis. Being a college student and having so many opportunities at the tips of our fingers to go places and learn for almost nothing compared to the rest of the world is incredible.
I completely understand that not everyone is as inclined to see the world and strike up a conversation with an older woman at the top of a hiking trail, but there is something to be said for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I recently acquired a new perspective on life after I read a book called "Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously." The theme of the book is to live in the face of fear. It isn’t about bravery: it’s about knowing what you’re going up against and choosing to push through, living courageously.
Before I read this book I was constantly conflicted, feeling like I had all these aspirations and dreams but felt as though something within me was being contained: I wasn’t giving anything my all. I was giving everything 85 percent because I was scared that whatever it was I was reaching for wouldn’t be attained. I was scared of failure.
I wasn't able to pinpoint what I was afraid of until one of my spring break adventures: Daytona Beach, Florida. I’d had the perfect day with my best friends, drinking Miami Vices all day laying in the sand, enjoying not having exams or homework. It was just after sunset and we were overlooking the water at a beach bar, and everything was good. Except this tightness in my chest and back slowly becoming more prominent.
I thought maybe I was having a reaction to copious amounts of sun and rum and just ordered water with my drink to chill out. Within two minutes of noticing the sharp pains I was involuntarily crying and hyperventilating. I know it sounds insane to someone who’s never experienced anything like it before, but it’s a thing, I promise. What worried me the most was that there was absolutely nothing wrong and yet I couldn’t stop freaking out. After about 10 minutes of my best friend calming me down with breathing techniques I was finally able to relax.
Anxiety attacks. It’s a real thing, and apparently the anxious feeling I get for no apparent reason is something I have to work through regularly now. It’s such a hard topic to explain to people because when someone tells you to "just calm down" or "you just need to relax" it’s like ok, yeah, easier said than done.
The truth is that it is something entirely not up to those of us who have it. Before I knew what it was that was making me feel stuck and unable to just push through the hard parts I wasn’t capable of giving 100 percent and achieving my goals. Fear leads to anxiety, which in turn leads to half a**ing.
The reality is that with the amount of stress and chaos in our daily lives, the excitement of adventure can randomly spark a trigger that can send anyone with anxiety into an attack and sometimes it takes much longer than 10 minutes to restart and feel good about continuing on with whatever it was that was being done.
After some time passed I realized what my triggers were, and to be honest, I’m still learning. It isn’t about not feeling capable of giving all you’ve got to any one thing, it’s about knowing how you can push past the initial fears that spark anxiety. It’s about living outside your comfort zone. The more I push myself to do things I never would have done, I realize that just because anxiety is something I struggle with does not mean it has to consume me.
If you can fail at what you’re already doing on a daily basis, why not try something you actually want to do? Contrary to popular belief, even if you do fail at something, you’re always getting something out of it. Step outside the fear. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself. I swear.