There was a time in my life when I didn’t want to go out of the house because I didn’t want to be around people. I didn’t trust them, but always expected the worst from people and figured that the fewer people I have to deal with, the better. I wanted to avoid people altogether. Even to this day, my default reaction is to distrust people when I meet them. (No offense, people!) For instance, if I’m in a car and I see another person staring at me, my first reaction is to say, “Why the heck are you looking at me? Can I help you?” When in reality they might have just happened to look my way.
I guess you could say I struggle with anxiety.
Why? I know that not all people are bad, but I have seen what people are capable of and I think that a lot of people are just selfish and have no regard for other human life.
I’ve seen people be cruel. For instance, on a video on Facebook, I saw a group of people beating the daylights out of a homeless man—they took his shirt and the few things he did have. That kind of stuff bothers me a lot. I’ve also experienced it personally: starting in elementary school and into high school, I was bullied a lot by other kids.
Anxiety is insane, because you cancel yourself out: you want to be successful, but on the other hand you don’t have the motivation to do anything. Some days I’ll be extremely happy and bright, but the next day I’ll be like, “Why are you so happy?” Some days I hit it off really well with other people, but the next day I’m like, “Why do you trust these people?”
As a meme that I saw says about anxiety, “It’s like having two people living in your head. One is logical and the other is paranoid psycho.”
But does my struggle with anxiety mean that I’m doomed to a life of self-pity and loneliness? I don’t think so.
“With every broken bone, I swear I lived,” goes the song, “I Lived,” by OneRepublic. In other words, live life to the fullest no matter what obstacles stand in the way. Instead of dwelling in self-pity, or being afraid to get hurt again, or make a mistake, I can let my emotional scars teach me how to move forward and learn what not to do, as well as use them to help others. I want to be able to look back in life and say, “I made mistakes and got hurt but I did the best I could and enjoyed life.”
I can see my struggles as an opportunity to get stronger. Because if you think about it, someone out there is worse off than me—maybe physically, mentally, or maybe even financially—but still choosing to live life to the fullest. And if they can do that, then I just need to play the cards that God dealt me. If God brought me to it, He can get me through it.
Anxiety has been a struggle for me for a long time, but I have also learned that I can’t let it affect my life and hinder my ability to be happy. I have learned that strength is about more than physical ability: it’s also mental and emotional. I have to be able to keep my chin up and say I did my best. I realized that while I can’t control what other people say or do to me, I can control how I respond. I learned that people try to hurt others when they’re not happy and want to bring others down to their level, because then they don’t feel alone. But instead of letting them hurt you, the better way is to help them and bring them up to your level.
That’s why I forgave all the people who bullied me when I was in school. Instead of seething with anger toward them, I tried to understand why they might have done it: maybe they just had a bad home life and they wanted an outlet to feel like somebody big. I’m not saying that it’s okay to bully, but I forgave them, and I’m even friends with one of them now. And today, if other people try to bring me down, I try to bring them up to my level by forgiving and not responding in kind—because the view is always better from the top.
Anxiety is a struggle for me to this day. But when I do let myself make friends with people, I usually realize that they’re not bad people. If I let down my walls around somebody, it means that I’ve realized that I can trust them—and if I do that, then that creates the possibility for friendship. And let’s face it, all of us want to be accepted and loved.