I've always been a strong person- bull headed, opinionated, logical, and unemotional. Or so I thought. I'm a bit of a workaholic and haven't held less than two jobs since I was 17. As many of you know, on January 1st I quit my main job. I decided to take a leap and attempt to make money creatively. I won't say I've failed. I will say I've struggled. The biggest struggle was internal. I left a job that payed well but killed my creativity. Ideas weren't cherished. I had no idea how much people's negative opinions of me affected me until I had the flu for three weeks and was forced to sit still for hours. For the first time in my life I started having anxiety attacks. I started questioning my abilities on so many levels as a direct result of the voices I let into my life. It was as if I had a record on repeat of all the critical words spoken over me for the past few years. I had buried them away. Now they came to haunt me.
Anxiety is a taboo topic in most of my circles. Christians are especially silent on the issue. Jesus gave us joy so don't be depressed. You're going to heaven; why are you anxious? The shame that surrounds anxiety within the church is insane. People look at me and expect me to have life together. I read Kierkegaard, listen to UP, drink ethically sourced coffee, and have led countless groups. I'm supposed to have life figured out and diagramed in my journaling Bible. It's a load of crap. I'm calling the church's bluff.
The majority of my anxiety is about anxiety. Anyone with me? You start to feel that knot in your stomach creeping up to your chest and you instantly feel shame because once again you can't control it. It's a miserable way to live and you feel so helpless. The truth is anxiety is an emotion it's not a choice. You shouldn't feel helpless. You can take steps to heal those emotions but it takes time- just like healing a broken heart.
I've contemplated writing this multiple times and each time anxiety hits with full force. Why? The most important question to ask your anxiety is "why?" Cultivate a spirit of curiosity toward your emotions. It erases fear. Push into why your body is reacting to that thought or person. Discover yourself. Why does writing this create anxiety within me? Because I know some of you will judge me. You will think less of me. You won't see this as a gift of vulnerability. I used to be you. I used to view anxiety as a weakness. Now I know that is a sign that your alive. You're moving. You're taking risks. It's okay.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my journey through anxiety with you. I will talk about the helpful things (meditation, exercise, healthy food, etc.) and the not so healthy things (negative people, crime shows, etc.). This year has been one of showing myself grace. Please, show yourself grace. You deserve it.