Some days I’m Just A Sentient Ball of Emotion [On Anxiety]
I have a roommate (she's a wonderful human being who happens to be a singer/song-writer who creates what I like to call “strong feeling music”. I have strong feelings. We make sense.) For the sake of this story, we'll call her "M". NOTE: This isn't some weird anonymity thing, it's more about ethics and if I'm honest, an aesthetically pleasing dialogue format.
In a lot of ways I feel like my excitement around this project is directly related to her reaction to the idea. I'm going to share a moment where she said some things that I’m carrying with me on this journey, one of which being the inspiration for this post.
M: “I will say, one of the greatest things about rooming with you has been-"
B: *interrupting* "That I'm a hot mess and it makes you feel better about yourself?"
M: "No, that when it comes to things like mental health you're very honest about where you're at. And that creates space for other people to be honest about how they're doing and where they're at, and I just think that's really cool."
I wanted to respond: 'well of course I'm honest about where I'm at. My poker face is just about translucent and when I'm not doing great I have a really hard time hiding it.'
But instead I actually said something like "Wow, thanks." and filed that moment under things-that-make-me-feel-weak-that-people-apparently-appreciate-or-something. But then I started to think about it.
Here's what is true:
I'm a generally anxious person.
I’m also highly sensitive.
I’m also painfully empathetic.
I’m also a people pleaser.
Each of these things, while individually manageable, in certain circumstances fuel and complicate one another. For me this means that sometimes I’m left feeling like a sentient ball of emotion. I know that sounds hella redundant, but it's the best way that I can describe my experiences with debilitating anxiety. In those moments I feel like I am nothing but my emotions. But thankfully those moments aren't my norm. 92% of the time my anxiety is pretty high functioning. I used to tell myself that I was the "good kind" of anxious because it made me better and for the most part people couldn't tell what I was dealing with unless I let them in, which I rarely did.
Here's what else is true:
My trust issues have made me radically honest at my best, and near physically incapable of lying at least.
My general desire to support others in doing what they do best makes me a great teammate.
My people pleasing tendencies... well, let's just say that someone important to me once said "no one tells a people pleaser to slow down or stop, because we do really great work."
My perfectionism makes me the good kind of detail oriented and I'm generally pretty on top of things.
But my experience of those things:
I self-Identify as Type-A to disarm people, but it always surprises me when people see me as organized, on top of things, or put together.
I am an obnoxiously organized person... because when I'm not i'm a nervous wreck. I trust my systems more than I trust myself.
I rarely speak up or share my own ideas in large group settings for fear of drawing attention to myself, taking up too much space, or being wrong.
I always feel over emotional and exposed, yet some of the people closest to me say that they know none of the big or important things about me, my life, or how I think. The word guarded gets used a lot.
So clearly there's a little bit of a disconnect. As someone who thrives on feeling connected to those around me and living a life marked by grace and community that makes me sad. And it makes me wonder.
It makes me wonder how people can trust me if they don't even know me.
It makes me wonder if anyone actually likes me.
It makes me wonder how long they'll put up with my stress-y nonsense before they just decide to cut and run.
It makes me wonder if anyone will believe me if I try to tell them that something is wrong, because I don't trust myself to correctly identify when something is actually wrong.
I've spent two days trying to figure out how to neatly end this post and give it an inspiring ending. But that doesn't quite make sense, because this is actually a beginning. Some people will say that the "cure" to anxiety is learning how to trust yourself, but I think that's a far off part of it. Sometimes the answer is not listening to yourself. Sometime the right thing to do is to thank your brain for the thoughts and then promptly disregard them. Sometimes it's about learning how to listen to those closest to you in those moments when your thoughts aren't being kind to you, or you can't even hear yourself. Sometimes, the pro of others excitement outweighs all of our anxious cons.