Anxiety can be a touchy subject to talk about, especially around people who don’t fully understand the extent of what it puts you through. Often it’s hard to describe how it feels to someone who hasn’t or doesn’t experience it and even if you can put together the words that sometimes doesn’t even do it justice. I have anxiety and I have battled with it for years. I worry about things I can’t control, I leap to the worst case scenario, I want everything to be perfect. I worry about what people think about me, I worry about events in the way future when the event in the present hasn’t even happened yet.
By: Sara Buxton
Burn out: you feel a little dead inside but know you have to keep going. The only thing moving one foot in front of the other is the 7th coffee you just downed. You have a test tomorrow that you should probably study for, but if you go to bed right now you could get 3 hours and 26 minutes of sleep. Sound familiar?
It’s real and it sucks.
Every morning at 9 a.m., my phone goes off and a notification lights up my screen, prompting me to open it and read my daily inspirational message. Some days I’m eagerly waiting to see what the quote is, while other days my hectic morning has moved the thought to the back of my mind.
It was one of those particular mornings. I was in a bad mood, tired, and waiting for my coffee to kick in. I was emotional from lack of sleep and an overwhelming amount of stress. Balancing college classes, homework, work, social life, and family time was getting harder and harder every day. I was slowly sinking into a dark mood and putting my personal needs to the back burner.
I was hanging out at my pity party and the last thing I wanted to do was read some cheesy, inspirational quote about how great my life was or how thankful I should be. Especially when I felt like all my problems were piling up at once, and stacking themselves against the never ending list of “to-do’s”.
But, low and behold, it wasn’t some cheesy quote a teenage girl came up with; it was exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right time.
“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.” – Henry Rollins
I read it a few times before it really sank in. Something that was so black and white captured so many different shades of grey. The twelve words held so much density and meaning. Henry Rollins was a man of words and knew just how to put you in “the feels”.
Every single living thing on this earth is scarred in one way or another. Whether they are physically seen or internally felt, they are there. Each one of us is branded by the life we have lived and the circumstances we have faced. The scars display our growth and change. They are reminders of things we should not repeat. They are trophies won from the challenges we have overcome. They are the small flicker of light that we look to on our gloomy days. They are momentum from the blows we have bounced back from. They are armor that shows we have fought and waged wars. They are proof that when we are knocked down, we still pick ourselves up and say, “Is that all you’ve got?” They have molded us into the people we are today, regardless of the journey or how long it took us to get here. Our individual scars are what set us apart and make us unique from one person to the next. And even though we may go through similar experiences, each one of us is marked differently than the other.
Every wound has healed as a new layer that protects us from the next blow. We have these scars as proof that we are human and to remind us that we are not invincible. That even though our bodies can be bruised and beaten, we are still strong and resilient. Life may have thrown punches and knocked us to the ground, but we sure as hell kicked and screamed the whole way down. It may have taken ahold of us and held our head under water, but you can bet that we returned to the surface with a stronger set of lungs. It may have dragged us through hell and back, but it taught us how to fight fire with fire; that we can survive the burns and the heat. These scars are reminders that we have come out against all odds and that every setback has only benefited us further. Every dream that we accomplish is as a result of our battles, our challenges and our strength. The journey that we endure is what sets us apart from the rest and is what makes it worthwhile in the end. It is the drive and the ambition that keeps us going.
And the only way to keep going is to not look back. Not to dwell or waste precious time on things that cannot be changed. Take time to heal from the scars and the battles, but do not get comfortable amongst the wounded. Pick yourself up, brush it off, and keep going. Keep fighting and keep pushing through. Our circumstances do not determine our outcome. We are not our mistakes or misfortune. Every second of the day, we have the ability to change what makes us unhappy. Life will hurl you through so many obstacles and make you endure so many challenges. But that is the beauty in life; the journey in finding our way along the path that is laid out for each of us. In our own way and our own time, just how we were created to do so.
There is so much ahead of everyone of us and so much to look forward. There are so many beautiful places to see and beautiful people to meet. They will see your marks, welcome them for what they are and love you for your strength and perseverance. Carry your scars with you, but do not let them burden you or weigh you down. Embrace them for what they are and for whom they have helped you become.
I don’t know about you, but when it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t change my scars for anything.
I know you.
I was you.
And at times, I still am you.
I know how you feel to have the weight of the world on your shoulders and you don’t know what to do. You had this plan. You knew what you wanted to do with your life, but the rug was ripped right out from under your feet. You were the person in high school that had a plan. Heck, you had your whole life planned out right before you turned 18. Graduate college in under four years, start your profession, and get married before 25. Life had another path for you instead and you tried to fight it.
Now, you sit there with the world crashing all around you, your plans all going out the window, and you have no idea what you are doing. But you don’t ask for help. You don’t tell people what is going on because you are so afraid that it will change people’s view on you. Instead, you walk around with a smile on face, pretend that everything is okay, and keep right on trucking with your day. No one never suspects anything, no one knows, and you are carrying around more weight than what you know to do with and more struggle than anyone can imagine. You continue to smile.
It is so much easier to walk around with a smile on your face because the world does not want to hear “I AM ACTUALLY DROWNING AND I NEED HELP!” That would be a sign of weakness and no one wants to be around that. No one wants be around the person that has an anchor tried to their ankle and cannot come up for air, no matter how hard they try.
You’ve been told your whole life that everyone wants to be around happy people. That is what you focus on. You stick to yourself while your friends never know that your panic attacks and anxiety are taking over your life. Keeping calm is much harder when you don’t have someone beside you. Staying in bed and not wanting to even go out in the world is easier than keeping calm. Your thoughts start overwhelm you, anxiety creeps in, and panic attacks occur when no one else is around. You don’t ask for help, because that’s a sign of weakness. The last thing that you want to is for people to know how weak you are; when you feel on the inside you are crumbling to the ground.
It will always surprise people when you mention this to them, because they look at you, get confused, and don’t believe you. They will say, “Someone as happy as you doesn’t have to deal with it.” “You are always so happy.” The words sting as you just grin and nod and pretend that you didn’t tell them what you just said. Eventually, there will be someone that reach out, bring you close, and tell you they know how you feel.
I am not here to tell you that it gets easier, that all of sudden you will wake up and not feel like you are drowning 24/7, because that just does not happen at all.
I will tell you that you will find your people. They will make getting out of bed a little easier. They are the ones who accept your quirky traits and make life a little easier. They are the ones who know when something is wrong before you can even speak it.
You will slowly start to come up for air and won’t feel the weight of the world holding you down anymore. Life will start to get easier and you won’t feel like staying in bed for the whole day. You will want to go out and have fun, because soon you will realize that you don’t always have to walk around with your smile on your face. You don’t have to pretend that you are always happy to make people like you or love you.
I was you.
And at times I still am you.
The Girl Who Smiles No Matter What
I was at a wedding event for my part time job a couple of weekends ago and noticed that the majority of the couples were in their 30s, which was interesting to me coming from the Midwest where couples get married in their early 20s. I commented on it to my boss who said that 30 is the common age to get married in California. People tend to go to college then have a career, meet their significant other and then get married. I told her how I feel so discouraged that I’m not in a serious relationship and that so many of my friend are getting engaged and married and how hard it is to see that. She told me “everyone has a different stage of life they’re in”. Her quote really stuck with me and I kept going back to it.
Today it is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing with their lives; compare yours to theirs and think that you need to be where they are. You see a girl roughly your age with a cute guy on her arm and think you need a guy too or to be engaged and planning a wedding. Or someone who has a ‘crushing it and taking names’ career and you need to have an awesome, ‘crushing it and taking names’ job too or else you’re a failure. Or if you’re in the online world you see someone who has a ton of followers, gets thousands of likes on a photo, gets to go to NYFW or other super cool events or even gets sent stuff for free and you think wow I want, no need to be like them to be somebody.
I’m here to tell you that “everyone has a different stage of life they’re in”. Some are in their school stage, career stage, others are in the marriage stage, family stage, finding themselves stage, traveling stage, enjoying life stage, whatever else they’re doing stage. Mine is going to be different than yours, than your neighbors, than every single person’s. Everyone is at different point in their life doing different things. Just because you aren’t at that stage right now doesn’t mean you won’t ever be. You’ll get there, maybe not today but you’ll get there. So stop comparing where you are in life to everyone else’s.
Remember “comparison is the thief of joy”. If you spend your life comparing it to your friends or people you see online you miss out on all the great stuff that’s in it. I know it’s hard, easier said than done. I play the comparison game every time I see a blogger have tens of thousands of likes or go to fashion week or get a brand collaboration or heck even when I see a classmate get engaged via Facebook. But I just tell myself “everyone has a different stage of life they’re in”. And that I will get to that stage one day too.