So freakishly anxiety is the biggest buzz around town these days, maybe we realized how the devil operates or simply some movies draw out the compassion within us. I remember a time when I couldn’t even pronounce A-N-X-I-E-T-Y, let alone understand how these little 7 letters may define half of my life. Just a few years ago, we didn’t have counselors wandering the school doors or articles written about how devasting social anxiety can make a person. Anxiety was more of a taboo word.
See I faced social awkwardness all my life but you can’t label me as a timid introvert, weirdly there are days I want to conquer the world and wanderlust magic is all around, the power extrovert plays horrifying games with people like me. We, humans blindly associate anxiety with sad lonely introverts, but that’s not entirely true, unfortunately, our behaviors & personality can’t be broken down to two cold cliché categories, even the best of us could be hiding a storm inside.
Anxiety can’t be boxed up as a mental issue, sometimes it arrives with physical torture too because even we can’t explain that god trenching pain of not being able to perform the normal day to day tasks like other folks. You clench your fist, roll up like a ball on the bed and let your eyes do the heavy lifting at night with an awful ache buried in your heart.
So how does it start? Why? When? With years of sharing my life with this pitfall, I did pick up a few things. For some of us, it all begins as we learn to take our first steps in the world, but denied an access to all negative emotions. Our naive loving parents, lock up anger, tears, and hatred as forbidden modes of expression, not realizing they were the ones who opened the doors to this hell called anxiety. As those feelings are pushed within, you learn to fake a smile early in life.
As you walk through the doors of a school and see a teacher, the so-called ‘second mother’ hit your friend, the first taste of public humiliation torments you inside out. The best way is to hide behind others, neither asking questions nor answering them. See, you just never want to be that kid who stood in front of the entire class, so breaking barriers and rising to horizons were just dysfunctional metaphors. You do everything to dodge that confrontation, so verbal communication took a downturn here. The insecurities of being judged & ridiculed forces you to avoid eye contact & in fact ignore the whole “talking spree”.
Years pass by, your preferred choice to be in the background remained intact. Shying away from the stage, satisfied with the smallest role in the school play or pretending to be sick at a school assembly, you constantly stressed over how easy it was for the other girls to draw all the limelight and shine like a star.
While you love behind the scenes work and may create the best powerpoint presentation, narrating the same to your class in the presence of an authority, breaks your heart even before you plug in the slideshow. Already convinced your last night’s pep talk is a major fail, you speak as fast as possible in a monotone and rush off to a bathroom stroll realizing no amount of hard work and pep talks were enough.
Denied opportunity to express and a constant fear of being publicly grilled for your actions, you manifest a rather impressive defense mechanism called ‘secret keeping’. You hide your overly sensitive side to snotty comments with an aloof exterior. And unintentionally bury your empathetic self due to lack of words and expression.
We don’t realize but those years are tinted with a personal destruction, either you stay alone locked up in a room becoming that ‘voiceless anti-social bird’ or that power extrovert challenges you to make friends. Miraculously, you do find others, you always do, people who portray care for you but don’t really understand the real you, truth is we don’t understand ourselves and our not so good communicating function makes things worse.
Little bite size pieces of past experiences can condition human beings to be more anxious and triggers a much horrible path to empty loneliness. All humans face anxiety from time to time, but some of us due to unhealthy overwhelming stress, lack the control and instead feed the demon.
Disclaimer: The above mentioned is through my personal experience.
As my last Instagram post suggest, I would be writing with a personal touch.