This is a letter to my past anxiety. I hope by reading you will find comfort and encouragement in knowing you're not alone.
I remember the way you used to guide me. You used to tell me not to talk to people, not to reach out, and that I wasn't worthy of being myself. You told me that people didn't want to know what my personality was like, and that it wasn't okay to talk about myself.
You used to keep me safe (or so I thought) from people prying into my life, asking me how I was, where I went on my vacation, what kind of activities I liked to do. Shut them out, shut them out you said.
You would grab me by the hand and stop me from helping a stranger when they dropped something within my reach. You would tell me not to show my feelings, not to be vulnerable in the presence of others. I believed you.
You fed me lies for 23 years. Behind those lies are the fears you instilled in me, yet the only way to grow in life is to be fearless. How many friendships did I pass up? How many opportunities to make a positive difference in other's lives did I forego? How many days would I wake up for work or school with dread in my bones, imagining all the mistakes I could make that might ruin my day? You betrayed me, Anxiety.
You made a void in me that I didn't understand until I rid myself of you. I didn't even know your name until year 22! You stopped me from growing, from fearlessly and unapologetically being myself with others.
But it wasn't enough to hold me back. When I got my new job, I was determined to act like who I wanted to be, because I knew that was the only way to find who I really was. This was my chance to start fresh, and I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity. I talked to anyone and everyone and although it was so terrifying and awkward and awful at first, I promised I wouldn't give up.
Then one day, about a year after I promised myself to change, I woke up and there was no dread. I was ecstatic when I realized my plans had worked! Your effects no longer held me back; I murdered you at last. All of the torturous moments of socializing and forcing my thoughts to silence had finally come to fruition in the form of fearlessness.
Finally, I was no longer afraid to make small talk, or tell people about my life. I was no longer afraid to be seen as a bad person, because I started to understand that most people actually liked me, and that I wasn't a bad person at all. I started to see that if someone didn't like me for who I really was, then it was usually their own flaw that was the problem, and nothing related to me.
I started to open up, truly open up to people. I became a better version of myself once I realized all the lies you put into my thoughts, and started to recognize those lies for what they were. My defenses went down, and instead of judging others I started to look at them with a compassion I always had but didn't always know how to use.
I'm so glad I murdered you, Anxiety, and I hope a million more work up the courage to do the same.
Your Worst Enemy
© 2019 Rebecca Swafford