And it doesn’t determine your identity either.
But anxiety can be a heavy load.
Not everyone has it, but the ones who do learn to sense the weight of a second skin.
If you’ve lived your life with anxiety, you may have assigned an identity to it. Maybe anxiety has become your identity.
But whatever it is, anxiety is not the arbiter of your life’s story, nor is it a soothsayer emanating preconceived misfortune.
Anxiety is what it is. Nothing more and nothing less.
I didn’t think I would get to this point in my thinking.
There were times in which I never thought I could reflect on my anxiety through a dispassionate lens.
Anxiety has a way of tricking you into thinking that things will always be a certain way, that there is no way that they could ever break in your favor.
And yet, the truth hides behind the anxiety. You just need to learn to search for it.
But how do I search for the truth when the anxiety clouds my view?
The path is paved with stepping stones of wisdom, forged in the struggle against the anxious mind.
Growing up building inner strength is all about exposure.
It’s about doing what you think could never be done — and not only living to tell the tale but becoming a champion for the glistening self that emerges on the other side of the spitting and misting cloud of anxious thoughts.
My anxiety is intrusive thoughts. It’s belittling thoughts. It’s a minimization of who I know I’m capable of becoming.
If only I peel back the anxiety. If only I shed the second skin that hangs heavy at my sides.
Anxiety is a foe that exaggerates; it’s a false persona that lies to me.
It has made me feel that my world is small and worthless.
But it’s funny; it’s so curious that anxiety never mentioned that it tells other people the same thing.
At some point in my gradual exposure to face my fears, I learned of the shared connection of anxious minds.
Because this is true: anxiety manifests in similar ways, in similar environments, across similar circumstances.
But once I started to spot the connections, I found the courage to talk about my anxiety.
I started to see my fear of abandonment as laughably false.
I started to realize that each person is born and dies alone. And that fact suddenly struck me as not such a bad thing.
Because it’s when you face your anxiety and explore it with a curious mind that you see the common experiences illuminated through the murky thoughts. And with illumination comes perspective.
And once you gain that, you befriend the relative nature of the mind. What is bad today will, on another day, have something completely different to compare itself to.
The next day could bring hope.
At first, you might stumble upon it and not know what to make of it. But if you keep up the curious gaze, you may very well become emboldened to see if you could craft some hope for yourself.
Then, one day you look back.
You smile and see how far you have come. You wonder where the anxiety is.
And then you notice that it’s still there.
Only now, with hard-won perspective, you realize it’s tucked away securely in its proper place.
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