It would start with a pounding feeling in my chest moving a thousand miles an hour. Then my stomach would start to hurt. It would feel like the temperature turned into the hottest day of June. Then my thoughts would begin to run out of control; my body would start to shake, and a crowded room would instantly felt like a world I didn’t exist in.
Am I having an anxiety attack?
For the longest time, I was in denial. I come from a loving home. I have an incredible career and a loving husband. What could be wrong with me? The older I got, the more it would happen, and the simplest challenge would become a trigger point. Whether I get stuck in traffic on the way to work or working with new clients, I find myself living in fear of what if this doesn’t go right? The fear of not knowing what the result will be, allows my mind to create blank canvases for portraits of failure.
Am I less of a person because of this?
As a little girl, I always felt like the outsider who wasn’t cool enough to sit at the table with the elite, but I was my biggest bully. “You’re fat with ugly, curly hair” – Did I just say that? Those thoughts of myself were a reflection of what I saw in my mirror that became insecurities. Is this what the world thinks of me? Am I not good enough? Do I have what it takes to be the one for the job? Why was I picked last?
Slowly this turned into a daily anxiety. Someone could look at me, and my mind would remember that summer day that I decided to be a part of a race. It was my turn, and I ran as fast as I could. One breath at a time, pushing myself to finish only to be reminded of who I was by the cool kids laughing on the sidelines because I was slow and my belly came out of my shirt. An incredible moment instantly became an example of no matter who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve experienced, someone will always have an opinion of you.
I have learned to fight these emotions by closing my eyes and breathing. Every breath is one second closer to those moments of uncertainty becoming reminders of courage. Crazy to think a time of weakness can bring out your best. You ask how? – The ones who fight anxiety are one of the most influential people around. Why? – We talk knowing we may stutter and may sound downright silly. We overthink every word but continue to write, and in moments that doubt becomes the loudest voice, we begin to believe in ourselves more.
We are strong because a dull moment for someone else could be a face full of tears for us. Knowing we don’t have the confidence to accomplish our goals, we find a way to become successful. We are strong because that very thing that holds us down will motivate us to stand tall and get things done with twice the weight on our shoulders.
We’ve learned how to breathe.