“After all, what is happiness? Love, they tell me. But love doesn’t bring and never has brought happiness. On the contrary, it’s a constant state of anxiety, a battlefield; it’s sleepless nights, asking ourselves all the time if we’re doing the right thing. Real love is composed of ecstasy and agony.”
― Paulo Coelho,
I tend to be a bit of a tortured soul. I spend a lot of time worrying about things (what could go wrong, how to fix this, what to do about that, what are they thinking, why do I care what they are thinking, and on and on). This is a combination of genetics and environment. It’s also never going to change. I’m never going to be a chill person.
Anxiety exists on a spectrum and we need anxiety to survive. For some people it doesn’t work enough and they end up in dangerous situations time and time again. Or, for others, they’re held up in a bunker lined with aluminum foil.
Then, there are those of us in between.
If the anxiety scale goes from one to ten, I hover around an eight and my partner around a two. We experience the world differently. But, being an eight is not wrong and being a two is not right (or vice versa). There are benefits and challenges to both ways of existing in the world.
If I go off the scale, it’s called a panic attack and I have medication to get me back on the scale. I have no shame when it comes to medication. Panic attacks are hard on the body and hard on relationships. I’m willing to do whatever I need to do to be the happiest and healthiest version of myself.
I’ve had people tell me that taking medication is a weakness. I smile and nod at their ignorance around mental health. To be clear, taking care of your health is never a weakness and it is always a strength.
I’ve learned to accept that I’m an eight (and a lot of us hang out up there). There are benefits to being an eight: I’m sensitive to the needs of others, I’m a natural problem solver, I notice little changes, and I’m attentive. There are challenges: I worry a lot, I can be a perfectionist, I solve problems that aren’t problems in an effort to prevent future problems, I struggle to stay in the moment, and I can be reactive.
In sum, try to love who you are, challenges and all. The goal is not to make anxiety go away, we need it to survive and stay safe. The healthier goal is to understand where you hang out on the scale and get a better understanding of how to best manage this in your life. I will never be a two and that’s what makes me who I am. If I hated myself for this, that would be cruel (and futile). And, if you are a two, please never tell me to calm down or that I’m being irrational. Just because I’m an eight does not mean I’m broken and need to be fixed. That would be akin to me telling you that you don’t care enough or that you’re a robot person.
“Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy. You are crazy. You have that kind of intoxicating insanity that lets other people dream outside of the lines and become who they’re destined to be.”
― Jennifer Elisabeth,