I talk about anxiety quite a bit. It is a topic of frequent thought and conversation in my life.
There is one word in that definition that I want you to pay the most attention to. Fear.
I want to bring your attention to that word, because for the most part, that is what anxiety is. Fear. Granted, there is much more that goes into it, especially when it crosses over into mental disorder, but it is fear.
I spend a good portion of my days in fear. It’s time to tell it like it is. I am scared.
But of what tho?
Sometimes, that’s the hard part.
With a phobia, which again, per dictionary.com, is a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it, the source of anxiety can be fairly broad and it can be hard to pinpoint. You know something is wrong, but you sometimes don’t know what.
But when I do know, I know.
Like, I wake up in the morning afraid of going to work (go figure). Maybe I’m dreading having to talk, maybe I’m dreading that I will have a customer who is furious at life and wants to take it out on a customer service line, maybe I’m dreading that I will encounter a problem that I cannot handle. Often, 1/3 of these fears are unfounded and even the 2/3s that are founded aren’t that bad at the end of the day. Exhausting, but not life shattering. I carry this anxiety about work throughout the day, hell, even the weekends, which is not a way to live.
The anxiety also extends itself into other areas of my life. I get a bit of it when I sit down to write, as if I’m afraid that the words won’t flow, or won’t flow properly or won’t sound acceptable to a particular audience. Even writing this has taken some time because I feel the fear in my chest. I feel fear when I try to sit down and read a book, when I try to crochet, even just doing basic ass life shit sometimes, because in those moments, I am afraid that I’m not being productive enough, that I don’t have enough time to do anything and ultimately, the underlying fear that fuels all of this is a fear of failure.
This might be a fear that plagues a lot of millenials. I am, we are, afraid of failing. We were raised to achieve and achieve a lot and even though we did achieve, we also got fucked. We saw 9/11, we got the after effects of the 2008 recession, our wages are stagnant while living has gotten more and more expensive, we might not be able to ever retire, but we were instilled with the value that we need to be successful. It’s why we’ve turned our hobbies into side hustles and why many of us live with this ever increasing sense of fear.
My fear is to the point where I feel it in my head. I feel the areas of my brain activating when the fear begins to course through me. I sit down to do something, like start writing, and my brain gets…it’s not tight and it’s not painful, but it’s there. Even if I don’t feel it in my heart, I feel it there too.
So, now that I have accepted that my anxiety is really fear, and what that fear is, of course, I have to stare it in the face. If I fear failure, then what does failure look like to me? Is it living paycheck to paycheck until I drop dead? Is it working jobs that keep me in a state of fear? Jobs that don’t really do anything for me outside of a paycheck and something to do? What does success, the opposite of failure, look like? A job that fuels my soul more often than not (because I’m not naive enough to believe that every day has to be a great day. Bad days happen)? A cushion of money to where my bills are paid, there’s food in my pantry and I can buy a nicknack here and there without my bank account being in the double digits?*
I really have to sit down and answer these questions for myself. Maybe if I could calm my fear of not being productive or missing out on the internet, I could sit in some quiet meditation and look deep within for the answers and make some concrete, specific plans to manifest that vision of success.
* My idea of success has been humbled.
Featured photo courtesy of Frank K, give him a follow on Instagram.
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