Meet my friend Angela, a talented writer and sweet friend who I have been wanting to share with you for a long time.
I’m so excited for this post because I love reading pieces and blog posts by women being vulnerable and telling you about the times that they feel lame and scared. As we all know, it’s rare to find that on the internet.
So I hope you enjoy this honest account of what we all have experienced at some point or another…
The Anxious Optimist
Or, How I Learned to Fight My Anxiety With Positivity
I am an optimist with anxiety.
I enter a room like a marble statue: tall, solid, and gleaming with a stiff expression. On the
outside, I’m wearing my favorite shoes, my makeup is done just the way I think makes me
look best, and I’m smiling confidently.
On the inside, I feel like an intruder. There’s a voice telling me I don’t belong. I’m unwanted. It makes my skin crawl. It makes my throat clamp up. My lungs burn, my hands shake, and a layer of sweat forms on my forehead. I’m fighting back tears, fighting back an attack.
And then the paranoid thoughts begin. My mind weaves negative thoughts and opinions of
those who love me and care about me, twist their kind words and pleasant gazes into forced politeness and annoyance with me. The voice inside my head turns them against me, convinces me that they’re just putting up with me.
My housemate can’t stand me when I have my moods like this.
She only agreed to go out with me because it would be more awkward if she had declined.
He’s going to break up with me if I call him in tears one more time.
I’m a burden on everyone.
When the anxiety is at bay, I know these thoughts are insane. They’re crazy and false and
malicious and deeply unfair to the people they’re projected on.
My housemate adores me and cares about my well-being immensely.
She’s been my friend forever and loves to see me and catch up.
He’s my rock and wants me to call so that he can help ease the mess in my head.
I am not a burden. I am a fun, independent, and outgoing individual with wonderful friends and family who want nothing but the best for me. And the pervasive, paranoid thoughts are a lie, a chemical imbalance that I fight largely on my own with additional support from those who are more than happy to help me.
Anxiety is a self-perpetuating beast. It makes you perceive that those who help you are
actually against you, which forces you to stop asking for help. You isolate yourself as a result, which deepens the anxiety. Rinse, repeat…
I broke the vicious cycle. I became an optimist, and further, I fell in love with myself. Needless to say, this was not an accident. I faked it for a long time. But the funny thing about faking optimism is, the more positive energy you put into the world (even if it’s forced), the more positive energy the world gives back.
Now, every step back gives me the strength to take two steps forward. I am thankful for the
life I have. I realized that my anxiety wasn’t a part of me, but simply a defeatable enemy who lives in my head. Recognizing that gives me the ability to separate myself from my anxiety when its at its worst.
Yes, sometimes my anxiety is so crippling, I have to hide from the world and cry. Yes, I still
get panic attacks. Yes, I get aggressive, paranoid thoughts that turn the world against me.
But I’m happy and I’m optimistic that my future will be one where my mind is no longer a safe harbor for my anxiety. Being an optimist is the best weapon I have against my anxiety, and I know it can’t defeat me.