Growing Up with Anxiety

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I am someone who strongly believes that God knows us very well. He knows us so well that he knows exactly the trials and experiences that we need to have in order to grow, in order to become the people we have the greatest potential to become. The trials and experiences that we have are specific to us and tailor-made for us because without them we would not learn what we need to learn in any other way and also through them we become someone who is better equipped to love, understand and support others. A friend recently reminded me of a quote from Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School where she said, “Your past is perfect.” Which can in some ways sound so absurd when we think back and see all the mistakes and also the horrors and heartaches that we have been through. But, I really believe that our past and our thoughts about the past are what led us to where we are now. Likewise our thoughts that we are having right now will lead us to where we want to go.

I want to give you a little background about where I've come from, to show you how I came to this understanding and also how I forgot it or really I should say, did not want to accept it for some time.

When I was a child I was extremely reserved. Often I was called shy. I hesitate in saying shy because I know that there are some who would use it as an excuse. Yet it is not an excuse, merely a difficult struggle that we work through. It might make life harder at times, but it does not define us. To give you a better picture of what I mean when I say this I’ll share one of my earlier memories of myself.

When I was in kindergarten I would not even talk to the teacher. If it weren’t for the fact that my mother told her that I could talk, my teacher probably thought that I was unable to talk. Until one day she came in to the room I was in and saw me talking to the school’s cat. Apparently I had no problem talking to animals. This cat gave my teacher and I common ground. Through talking with me about the cat, I began to open up to her. But, let me tell you something, it was not an overnight thing, change within a person often takes time. Give yourself the patience that you need.

So, I grew up with anxiety.  I would get anxious when I talked to people but I would work through it. I had a beautiful childhood. I loved it, I know I had anxiety, but I did not let that define me.  Yes, there were and still are times when my anxiety gets the best of me and holds me back in some way, but I keep trying until I learn and succeed. When I was 12 years old I was asked to give a talk in church which was terrifying for me. In my church, it is the members of the congregation who speak in the worship service. I remember the anxiety that I felt about speaking, but I told them I would. That Sunday, I had what I would say prepared, all written out. I would read it word for word. At least that was the plan. My turn to speak came, and I could not open my mouth to speak. I just couldn’t do it. I feared more than believed. I don’t really remember how people responded to me, I’m sure they were supportive of me, because they always were and they knew about how shy I could be, but here is what I do remember of that situation.  I remember the resolve that I had from that experience. My failure made me determined. I promised myself that I would speak in church. And I did.

And the next time I was asked to speak, not only did I speak, but I have done so many times since. That determination that I received from my so called failure caused me to be determined to not only start speaking in church but it also prepared me to be able to do presentations at school as well. With the Lord’s help, I became determined to not just read what I had prepared word for word but to using a basic outline. And then from there to going on a mission for my church when I was 21 years old and speaking to both small and large groups of people, oftentimes without even referring to an outline. My experience of failing taught me that I could do better, placing in me a desire to become what I had the potential to become. I learned that I didn't have to allow anxiety to hold me back from doing what the Lord wanted me to do. I didn’t have to allow that anxiety to hold me back from doing what I was meant to do. I wasn’t always perfect at that, I can remember many times where I allowed my anxiety to get the best of me. But, I would not let it define me. I continued trying, failing sometimes, making things awkward at other times, but for the most part succeeding beautifully many times.

Remember the sense of accomplishment that you receive from stepping outside your comfort zone. All the while focusing on the fact that success comes from having done it, not from the results. The results may show failure, but know this, you are not a failure, you did something that was hard. Had I allowed my failure to get the best of me, I would have missed out on so many opportunities that came my way and I sure wouldn’t be writing about some of those experiences right now.

Remember your why’s. Remember that even though it may look like failure, that you actually accomplished something amazing by doing it in the first place. Or in my case by learning from it and trying again. And the more you do it, the more likely you will be to succeed.

To read the next part of my story go here: What Grief Taught Me

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