Lesson #30: Anxiety is a good thing.

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I have anxiety. I always have. It’s the extra beat coursing through my body. The familiar quickening of breath in unfamiliar situations. It’s the swirling thoughts that leave me sleepless, what if’s gnawing within my brain. It’s the doubts I have about myself that sometimes hold me back. And yet it’s also my energy.

I recently stopped taking my anxiety medication. Possibly a bit of an over share on a blog post, but there’s a reason that I’m telling you all something so personal…

Two years ago I found myself in a place in my life where my overwhelming uncertainty about the future left me feeling debilitated. Medications are controversial, and I personally have always been wary, even shying away from Tylenol. Yet, once the nerves got fiercer, my anxiety manifesting itself in new ways, creeping into the most ordinary moments of my day, I didn’t think too hard about looking into options.

The first thing I felt was shame, which ironically spurred on more anxiety. I didn’t tell many people only close friends and family. Luckily I didn’t need to share much because it did start to work, and once I felt myself relax in a way that meditation and yoga could no longer help me do, I knew that for the time being I had made the right decision.

Now fast forward two years and without really knowing why I have decided that I don’t need them any more. Similar to my decision to start taking them it was equally easy and intuitive to know when to stop.

So, what has changed, has my anxiety completely disappeared? No, I believe it has decreased but it is still there. What has changed is my personal disposition on anxiety. I have decided to see it as a good thing, I have decided that being anxious is a part of who I am, a part that I am ready to accept.

I’m not writing this for myself, I’ve done that already, pondering and playing with my own thoughts, self indulgent writing at it’s best. I felt compelled to write about anxiety and my own experience because as I have become honest with myself about who I am so too have other people been more honest with me. It won’t be shocking to read that what I’ve learned is that anxiety and depression are things we all deal with and yet most of us hardly talk about.

We have decided collectively and silently as a society to label these emotions as negatives. Why? The more people I’ve talked to, engaging and amazing people, the more I’ve seen their own embarrassment about what they try to keep inside. However, I’ve also seen their brilliance easier than they have. I’ve seen their creativity, their drive, their understanding and respect for others, their exuberant passion, I’ve seen their strength not despite their anxiety but most often because of it.

While traveling I meet people all the time who are out here for a reason, more often then not it has something to do with energy and a bit of anxiety. We travelers have a lot of it, which is why we like to be overwhelmed, stimulated, and consumed entirely. It’s a beautiful thing, it is why we keep moving, accomplishing, pushing ourselves, it makes us feel alive and oddly calm.

My point? When it comes to anxiety embrace it fully. Recognize how much strength and perspective it gives you. Let it be your creative inspiration. Instead of trying to find ways of denying its existence appreciate it and see where that extra energy can take you!

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