Anxiety is becoming more common. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects 25.8% of teens between the ages of 13 – 18.
What is anxiety?
The definition of anxiety, according to the dictionary, is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease typically something with an uncertain outcome.”
Anxiety is a natural human emotion and will come from time to time. When anxiety becomes excessive and a daily part of your life, then that is when you need to seek help.
Here’s my story of anxiety
I never knew what anxiety was until a few years ago when someone told me I have anxiety. I got offended and said to them, I am perfectly fine.
Then I started to do more research on it, and I realized he was right. I do have anxiety, and it roots back to the first day of kindergarten as far back as I can remember.
I remember after lunch on the first day of kindergarten, we took out our pillow and took a nap. I was the last one to finish lunch and the last one to take a nap. I felt slower than the other kids, and I wanted to cry.
As the years went by in elementary school, I wasn’t good at reading and would always fail the reading assessments. I continuously beat myself up every time I did bad on those reading assessments.
In middle school, I was a straight-A student. One final exam, I got a D, and I wouldn’t stop crying that day. I worked so hard to study for that exam.
I would continuously create goals for myself that didn’t come true.
- Get into Harvard. (I was a straight-A student and received a few B’s and gave up on my dreams). Instead, I got accepted to the University of South Florida.
- Run under a five-minute mile and eighteen-minute 5k. Instead, my fastest mile was a 5:52, and my 5k time was 20:20.
- My first summer doing door-to-door sales after graduating from college, I wanted 50 sales for the four months. I quit after two months of doing it with only two sales. It was my first sales job.
- I started working full-time for my sister’s start-up and thought we were going to build it to a billion-dollar empire right away. That didn’t happen. I learned valuable lessons from our failures.
Not achieving these goals created anxiety. I was creating unrealistic short-term goals for myself, and as I didn’t achieve them, I beat myself up. I kept pushing myself harder and harder, worried that I would never reach the outcome I wanted. I never looked at the bright side of these “failures.”
- I got into the University of South Florida, where I met life-long friends and became more confident.
- I ran a faster time than the average human and developed a passion for running post-high school.
- I had the guts to do door-to-door sales, and I matured fast after graduating college.
- I learned more about business, creating relationships, launching a product, sales, and marketing.
Anxiety is always worrying about what didn’t happen or the outcome of the future. Without realizing it, my anxiety got worse. I couldn’t concentrate throughout the day; I couldn’t sleep, and I was constantly worried about the future. I was always worried about my to-do list and trying to follow this timeline that was created based off of what I saw on social media. I was not in the present, and it sucked. I worried about work with friends and wanted to hang out with friends at work.
I needed help, so I went to see a therapist about it. BEST decision ever!!
What were the steps I took to battle my anxiety issue? (Steps you can take as well)
- I accepted I had anxiety. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t accept that you have a problem. The first step is always acceptance.
- I became aware every time anxiety crept in. Everyone has anxiety for different reasons and has various symptoms. When your anxiety is creeping in, please take note of it on your phone or in a journal. By that time, I had a list of everything that would cause me anxiety. Self-awareness is key.
- I found ways and strategies to eliminate what causes you anxiety. There is no one size fits all in helping people with removing anxiety. I can recommend what has worked for me. I found morning rituals that helped me kick start my day instead of starting my day with immediately rushing to work. I journaled my thoughts every time they would enter my head until my thoughts didn’t get in my way. I meditated and exercised almost every day. I listed what I am grateful for at the moment. Every time I have a negative thought come in my head, I think how a surfer rides the waves (an analogy for your negative thoughts on how they will flow in and out).
These steps have significantly decreased my anxiety. Do I still have it? Yes, I do. I am still working on it every day. Some days are better than others. My viewpoint on it has changed. Anxiety is a natural human response to stress. Instead of trying to eliminate it, work on implementing the right tools in your life to manage or minimize it as much as possible.
I do recommend finding a therapist, whether it is your school guidance counselor, in-person therapist, or online therapist. See if your health insurance covers it. If you don’t find the right therapist, keep searching until you find the right one.
Best of luck on your journey on fighting anxiety!