I’ve always been a little anxious. In preschool, I was the kid who stood by the wall, scared of the toys, the other kids, and life in general. Today, I am much less afraid of toys (which is great, because in an ironic twist of fate I ended up teaching pre-school for a year) but my overall anxious disposition remains. I am the living, breathing, slightly taller and way less famous Mindy Kaling, often wondering “is everyone hanging out without me?” (Spoiler alert: they totally are.)
Glamour Magazine published an article in 2010 citing anxiety as “the new young women’s health crisis,” claiming more people – women in particular – are experiencing it now more than ever before due to several modern factors. While I don’t really see it as a “crisis,” I am concerned that we’re letting common misconceptions – rather than actual human experience – define this multi-faceted term for us.
Anxious women are often portrayed in the media like Liz Lemon when she doesn’t get her special sandwich: crazy. Frantic. Ravenous. Running through the airport like a hot mess trying to eat the replacement sandwich and get the guy at the same time. Naturally, this does not end well.
While I think most people can relate to this experience, (don’t we all have at least one ill-fated running-through-the-airport-eating-while-trying-to-fall-in-love story? I think yes) being anxious is less about the actions and more about the thought process. At the end of a day like that, most people walk away from the experience with a glum “aw man, I didn’t get the guy and I ate the sandwich waaay too fast. Oh well, I wonder what my friends are doing tonight” kind of attitude, but an anxious person might be more like “I didn’t get the guy and I ate the sandwich too fast and I’m never going to meet a guy or eat a delicious sandwich ever again EVER. My friends are totally hanging out without me, my apartment is a glorified box, and nothing is ever going to work out for me. Also, my effing bangs are never going to grow back into real hair. All is lost. Dramatic sigh.”
This is what my daily life felt like up until recently when I decided it was Time To Get a Grip and Get It the Heck Together Already. I have capitalized this so you understand that it was a Very Important Decision.
I want you to know that anxiety is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. Some would even argue it is a beneficial thing. I want to blog about how anxiety has contributed to my life in order to reopen the dialogue about real issues that a lot of people face. If we lessen the threat of stigma and judgment, people might be more open to sharing their experiences and be less embarrassed about their schtick, whatever it might be, knowing that it isn’t their fault and they’re not alone. After all, no one asks to be anxious – or depressed – or lactose intolerant, allergic to strawberries, etc etc. We all just take what we get and try to make the best of it. And that’s what I’m doing.