“Anxiety is not who you are. It’s just a fraction of your life and you can change it.”
One of my favorite YouTubers, Zoë Sugg, said, “I’m working towards not having anxiety. I don’t ever want to just deal with it. I actually want to live my life without it. I don’t want anxiety to be a part of me. If you’re suffering with anxiety, please do something about it. Don’t just let it be a part of your life and work around it. Anxiety is not who you are. It’s just a fraction of your life and you can change it. Anxiety is not who I am. It’s just a tiny fraction of a behavior that I have developed over an amount of time and it doesn’t mean that it won’t go away.”
After hearing Zoë talk about her anxiety in this way, a switch flipped in my brain. A question that I had always contemplated was whether or not my anxiety was permanent. I think that the permanence of one’s anxiety is up to them. If you simply accept your anxiety and learn to live with it, it’s going to continue to dominate in your life because you have let it have its way. If you maintain the mindset that anxiety is something that you are trying to get rid of rather than deal with, it can open up brand new doors for you.
Over the last two years, my anxiety has improved significantly based on an understanding of it. When I came to university, I knew that I had anxiety, but I didn’t fully understand it. As I’ve explored my anxiety and learned a bit more about it, I’ve been able to control it and change some of it in different ways. Understanding what triggers your own anxieties and how your body reacts to various situations is important. You can know that you have anxiety without fully understanding it, and that lack of understanding can make you even more anxious. It’s important to step back, especially after a particularly anxious episode, and think about what caused it and how you reacted to it. This way, when the same thing happens again, you will be able to decipher what is going on and have a more firm grasp on the situation.
There is nothing that says anxiety has to be permanent. Retraining your brain to think about situations in new ways is possible. However, this isn’t an easy feat. It never will be, and it can take years and years to conquer. But I refuse to believe that I should just give up and accept that panic attacks and anxiety will always be a part of my daily life. Taking control of your own life is important and necessary to live happily. Just like I won’t let other people control my life, I won’t let my anxiety control it either.
As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember, even as a child. Anxiety is something that is rooted deep within me. Because of this rooting, it is going to take a long time to undo. My brain is wired to think about the world in a certain way. That long-term wiring isn’t easily undone. That doesn’t matter. I don’t need it to be easy. I just need it to be possible.