Healing is a Process

Living with an anxiety disorder is challenging on the easier days and downright terrifying on the more difficult days.

Unfortunately, I know this from firsthand experience. Until recently, I lived with an anxiety disorder that manifested itself with intense physical sensations. I experienced all sorts of scary feelings in my body; panic attacks, upset stomach, shaking, derealization, headaches, weakness, dry mouth, hot flashes and dizziness were just some of the many things I would feel on a day-to-day basis.

These feelings typically came about when I was out in public, like being in a big crowd, or somewhere that it wasn’t easy to escape without being noticed (sitting in class, eating in a restaurant) or in places with a lot of stimulation going on. Loud noises and bright lights really bothered me. There was even a time period where I could not bear to go into grocery stores because of the loud noises and fluorescent lighting. I know it sounds crazy, but it was that bad. It came on fast and intense, and left me feeling terrified to leave the house for fear of what might happen.

Many times I backed out of doing things because I believed I physically couldn’t. I thought surely I was going to faint, throw up, go crazy or die. My body felt weak all the time. Anxiety made me depressed. I isolated myself and so I lost a lot of friends and missed out on many of the typical college experiences because my anxiety always arose while I was out. The craziest part was that all of these symptoms seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I used to have lots of friends, I went out to parties and drank frequently, and never had any issues feeling this way. I would’ve thought someone who couldn’t handle sitting in class or at a restaurant for two hours was a crazy person. So when this became my life so suddenly, I was sure something was wrong. I thought I was really sick. It couldn’t just all be ‘in my mind’.

I went to the doctor (even though that gave me extreme anxiety too) and was told that I was totally fine and healthy. Then I got really depressed because I didn’t feel ‘fine or healthy’ one bit. I wanted an immediate cure to my problem and I wasn’t getting one. I started to think, “So this is going to be my life? I’m going to be isolated from the rest of the world forever? I’ll never have fun or be happy again?” I started to believe that I would be doomed to a life of confinement in my house for all of eternity. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. It wasn’t fair. I was a prisoner in my own mind and I couldn’t escape.

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Looking back now, five years later from when it all began, I can see that it was never random. In all actuality, the anxiety disorder I developed should have been expected. The only thing that surprises me now is that it didn’t manifest itself sooner.

My entire life I may not have suffered from a panic disorder, but I always lived anxiously. I had social anxiety growing up, and I always cared way too much about what other people thought about me… I obsessively worried about family, friends, money, school, boys, fitting in, you name it, I worried about it! I listened to negativity and drama from those around me and let it affect me, and I spoke negatively about myself and others. I did nothing to care for my mental health. I did not love myself, and I didn’t do anything I was passionate about. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed I would accomplish. I didn’t feed myself healthy thoughts or practice self-care, ever. I always played the victim. It was always someone or something else’s fault that I didn’t have a better life. I had done nothing but feed my mind negative, self-sabotaging thoughts my entire life, so, it was no wonder I developed such intense anxiety at the age of 21!

What I didn’t know then that I do now is that your thoughts create your life. The thoughts you think have a DIRECT effect on your health. Your mind, body and soul are all connected and the well-being of one greatly impacts the well-being of the other two.

Think of it this way: Our mind is like a giant computer system and negative thoughts are like bad viruses that get in and infect it. One person says or does something that hurts you, or you listen to/partake in drama, negativity or gossip, then your mind processes it, internalizes it, and keeps it, like a file downloaded on your computer. We usually forget about the negative thought itself, but its’ effects are still there looming in our subconscious for years to come.

And the more we think negatively, gossip, or put ourselves down, the more used to negativity our mind becomes, and because our minds find so much comfort in familiarity, the cycle continues. Thus, the virus just keep getting bigger and bigger, you begin to internalize these thoughts as truth, and then when your mind becomes too full of them, they start to spread to other parts of your body.

Many times, your physical illnesses and pains are literally your mind crying out to you for help! It’s telling you something is not okay in here! The worried thoughts weren’t enough warning for you, so your mind has to get your attention another way. However, typically by the time you realize what’s going on, why your body is acting so strange, it’s too late. You can’t just stop it. You know it’s anxiety, you know it’s ‘all in your head’, but you can’t control the way your body feels. You’re in too deep.

This is what I would call rock bottom. The place where you feel you have no control over your life. You feel trapped in your own mind. In this place, you are always afraid. You never know how you are going to feel, or when the anxiety is going to arise. Life is draining, and it often feels hopeless. I know because I’ve been there.

But even though you can’t escape it, no matter how badly you want to or try to, there is some good news. You will get through it.

Believe me when I say I really believed I would never feel normal again. I begged and pleaded and cried to God to take it away, but he never did. I didn’t understand. I felt like he had abandoned me. I wasn’t hearing anything from him, no guidance toward a way out. I was angry with him for a long time.

As much as I wanted to, I knew couldn’t stay in the house forever; it just wasn’t an option for me. I had to force myself to do things like go back to school and work, otherwise I couldn’t survive. But after time and time again of forcing myself to go through class or work and sit through the anxiety, even though I was terrified, shaking, feeling like I was going to vomit, I couldn’t focus and my mind was screaming “Stop, leave, run, don’t go! Stay home where it’s safe!”, after sitting through all of those feelings countless times yet still surviving, I started to realize that anxiety couldn’t kill me. Then I began to see that it couldn’t really hurt me either. If I could just ride the feelings out, they would eventually dissipate. And after four years of feeling like I was going to faint or throw up or go crazy every time I was in a social situation, I began to figure that if it was ever going to happen, surely it would have by now, yet it never had. When I thought about it that way, that my worst fears literally never came to fruition not one single time, I began to call anxiety’s bluff.

Hitting rock bottom was actually a huge blessing in disguise. I had nowhere to go but up. My old life wasn’t coming back, so I had to recreate a whole new life, a whole new me. I was alone most of the time because I had isolated myself from people due to the anxiety. I had nothing else to do, so I started reading and found the love I had for it as a child again. I also studied anxiety and I learned all about it, which was very informative and helpful, but to be completely honest, nothing really changed until I began learning how to love myself and the power behind it. I quit trying to learn ways to stop the anxiety, and instead began retraining my mind toward positive thinking and self-love. Doing this was the catalyst that absolutely changed my life. Believing I am enough, that I can create my life and literally do anything I want to as long as I believe I can and put the effort in, has truly changed everything. It’s incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful.

But as the title of this post suggests, this change did not happen overnight. It took time, and lots of it. It took hours of reading and self-reflection and forgiving myself. It wasn’t a linear progression, either. Some days I’d feel on top of the world, like I’d finally beaten my demons once and for all, and then something would happen and I’d have a few off days where I felt like I took 100 steps backward. But the key to my change was that I kept pushing forward despite the setbacks. I’m still working on it. I continuously have to replace negative thoughts that come to my mind every single day. I’ve learned that no matter how small or insignificant one negative thought may seem, I must replace it with love and truth so I don’t risk poisoning my mind again.

I will warn you: the anxiety will fight to stay. Our minds long for routine and familiarity, because it’s easy and comfortable. When you try to change your thinking, your mind won’t like it because it hasn’t been wired to think that way. My mind wasn’t used to love and positive thinking, so it felt forced and fake at first. But I kept doing it. I kept practicing it even when it felt phony. I spent time alone with myself, something I used to be afraid to do, and over time I began to enjoy it, then I began to need it. I started listening to inspirational podcasts. I found new people to look up to, people who lived lives similar to the one I wanted. I created a vision board. I started this blog and began writing a book. I began saying yes to things that got me out of my comfort zone. I started praising myself everyday and I’ve never felt better.

My anxiety doesn’t have much room to roam anymore. I’m too busy being productive to worry about most things. I am becoming so filled with love and light that there is nowhere for the negativity to stay. It tries to creep back in every now and then, the only difference is that now I see anxiety exactly for what it is, and therefore it can no longer control me. Anytime I sense anxiety within me now, I immediately capture it and throw it away.

I began to realize that this whole time my anxiety was just the result of my unhealthy mind trying to find some sort of outlet for the negativity. My body was only doing it to try and help me, so I forgave myself. Once I internalized this, I began the process of healing. It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t easy. It’s still ongoing, and I get the feeling that it will be for the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world now. Why? Because I am finally myself. It stripped me of absolutely everything I had, this false outer persona I used to put on for the rest of the world, and forced me to be more me than I have ever been before.

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So I want to ask you today, if God isn’t taking something away, could it be for a reason? Is he trying to teach you something? I know that for me personally, I always strayed away from God really easily until my anxiety started getting bad. Anxiety always helped me stay close to him because I knew I couldn’t make it through the day without his divine help. Because of anxiety, our relationship is so much deeper than it was before. I also know that I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing now and living a fulfilling life that I love if it weren’t for anxiety taking my old life away and leaving me to start a completely new one from scratch, which ended up being the one I’ve always wanted. And last but certainly not least, because I’ve come so far from where I once was when I began experiencing such bad anxiety, I know without a doubt that I am capable of just about anything! Right now I’m living a life and doing things that I didn’t think were possible just two to three years ago! It truly amazes me every time I think about it.

So if you are in a bad place today, I just want you to know healing is a process. It’s a journey. It’s terrifying at times and amazing at others. You’ll want to give up. But then you’ll do something you never thought you could and you won’t believe how far you’ve come. It takes time, but it is so incredibly worth it.

I challenge you today to start seeing your toughest battles as blessings in disguise. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this? How can I grow and be a better person because of this? If you need someone to talk to or help getting started on your healing journey, don’t hesitate to reach out. As always, please feel free to leave a comment or share this post if it resonated with you!

I leave you with some words of encouragement, and also my all-time favorite bible verse.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he did in fact was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its’ own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

-2 Corinthians 12:7 MSG

 

Social Anxiety: A Journey of Overcoming

I haven’t posted anything on my blog in awhile, not because I’ve given up or don’t want to, but because I’ve been dealing with quite a bit internally. It’s also not because I haven’t been writing, I have, for over a month actually, but I just wanted to be sure that I said everything I needed to say and I wanted to get it just right. For me, that usually takes some time.

To be completely honest, this post is not going to be an easy one. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, then you will know I’ve battled with anxiety just about all of my life. However, in this post I’m only going to discuss one specific type of anxiety I’ve struggled with. This type of anxiety has been the one I’ve dealt with for the longest time, and it has been by far the most difficult to endure. If it isn’t already obvious based upon the title of this blog, the kind of anxiety I’m finally choosing to open up about my struggle with is social anxiety. In reality, it’s something I have never openly talked about with anyone. Literally everything within me is resistant to doing this, hence why it’s taken over a month to write this post, but I feel that if don’t, I’ll never be set free or capable of living a happy life. 

You see, while I realize that a lot of people don’t understand what it feels like to have generalized anxiety disorder, fortunately I believe that it’s finally starting to become more acceptable in our society. I don’t feel entirely alone in that area of struggle. But when it comes to social anxiety, I do feel completely alone. It’s not something I ever talk about with anyone, not even my parents, friends or boyfriend of five years. I went to therapy for months last year and could pour my heart out about my generalized anxiety, panic disorder and my relationship difficulties, but I could never muster up the courage to talk about the way I feel inside and the thoughts my mind has when I’m put in new or uncomfortable social situations. 

According to the Social Anxiety Institute, “Social Anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, being negatively judged and evaluated, and, leads to avoidance.”

For me, social anxiety is that and so much more. It’s never volunteering an answer in class for fear of getting it wrong and looking stupid. It’s not wanting to admit things I haven’t done that I feel like everyone else has or that I feel like everyone loves to do. Social anxiety to me is avoiding going places where I might see an acquaintance because I don’t want to risk an awkward interaction. Social anxiety felt like getting asked the question I hated the most all throughout elementary and middle school: “Why don’t you ever talk?”, and not having an answer because I really didn’t know. It was dropping the same college course two semesters in a row on the morning it’s supposed to start because it was a discussion-based course and I heard that I would have to give a 10-minute presentation at the end of the semester, and the thought of doing that was just too unbearable at the time. It’s feeling totally alone in my mind and desperately wanting new friends, but whenever I do start making them and they want to hang out, I ignore them, or act disinterested or busy, because if they get to know the real me I’m sure they will stop liking me.

Writing about, let alone living that life, is exhausting! Not to mention, these are just a few of the many ways social anxiety has impacted my life. I don’t talk about it because I don’t like it. I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I don’t want to be this way. I’ve always equated being shy with being weak, and I don’t want others to think I’m weak. 

I tried to hide my shyness with my external persona. I bought clothes I couldn’t afford, I never went anywhere without my hair and makeup done. I was very careful about what I posted on social media. I had friends that were loud, outgoing and popular even though I didn’t really connect with them. 

I did all this so my life would seem perfect to others. So just maybe they wouldn’t see how weak and alone and sad I really felt. But all these things were never enough. Inside I still knew who I really was. All the hiding and self-shaming did was isolate me even more.

Growing up I was so shy it makes me cringe to think about it. I literally wouldn’t talk to people I didn’t know. Anybody else besides family or friends I would freeze up around. The older I got the more I was able to talk to people, but the feelings inside of me were worse, because I was older and I knew better. I realized I wasn’t normal but I didn’t know how to change.

Since high school ended it’s been easier to forget who I was, or I guess I should say, who I am. I can avoid it much better now. I don’t have to see huge cliques going and doing things I’m not a part of. I don’t have to worry about who I’m going to sit with in class. I’m an adult. I make my own decisions now. I can come and go as I please from any place I’m at. I don’t have to ‘fit in’ somewhere anymore. 

But forgetting, or sweeping things under the rug, doesn’t work forever. It’s like putting a bandaid on your skin hoping to fix an internal wound. But no matter how many times you try to cover up the spot, a bandaid just isn’t enough to fix it. 

I’m still reminded that I’m not over it when I’m in public and I insist on using the self-scan checkout even though I have a whole cart full of groceries, just to avoid having to make small-talk with a cashier. Or when I decline invitations to things I know I should go to and actually want to go to, but I worry about others getting to know me too well. Or when I get stressed out at the thought of running simple errands like going to the bank or making a phone call, because I don’t want to talk to anyone. Or when I get extremely annoyed with people out in public who try to make small-talk with me because it makes me so uncomfortable. Or that I’ve been writing this blog post for over a month but I can’t seem to finish it because once I make it available to read, people will discover who I am. The thought of people knowing my biggest secret is absolutely terrifying to me because I feel crazy for  getting anxious when doing such simple things.

At these times, I realize that I am definitely not over it. It’s still there. It may be a bit smaller and harder to notice, and yes, unlike when I was a child, I can talk to people I don’t know now. I can fake it all very well, but internally it’s still there, always lingering in the back of my mind.

However, I’m an adult now. I’m tired of fighting this; I’m so tired of hiding. The shame I carry from hiding who I really am is just too great to bear any longer. I have dreams I want to achieve, and this disorder is holding me back. 

It’s funny, I used to be ashamed of being an introvert. I thought ‘normal people’ (whatever that means) were all extroverts. However, I didn’t realize there was a difference between social anxiety and being introverted. To my surprise, I recently learned that an introvert is simply a person who needs alone time in order to recharge after social interaction. While social interaction drains an introvert’s energy, it doesn’t necessarily make them anxious to be social. Upon understanding the difference between the two, now I fully embrace my introvert ways. I realize I will always need alone time to recharge, and that it’s okay if I don’t like partying all the time like many people my age do. It’s okay that I would rather read a book at home instead. I’m no longer ashamed that I’m not extroverted.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to hold back and not do what I love, or miss out on making new friends anymore because I’m anxious. That isn’t an introvert thing, that is simply social anxiety. While the two are often highly comorbid, you don’t have to have both. It was such a relief when I discovered I can still be an introvert, without having to suffer from the crippling effects of social anxiety. 

I’m sure by now I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to have social anxiety anymore. But simply wanting to be different isn’t enough to fix the issue. Over the years I’ve learned that in order to truly get rid of a problem you have to do some work. You must dig all the way down to the roots, were the problem began, where the negative beliefs came from. Only then can you find the place where the lies developed, and thus, get rid of them. 

As I said before, for as long as I can remember, I didn’t like myself and I never knew why. And because I felt this way, I hid who I really was out of fear of being rejected. I was a painfully shy child, who simply did not want to be noticed by anyone. I wanted to figure out just where these negative beliefs and feelings began. Thankfully, after a lot of soul-searching, I can all pinpoint it back to one moment in time. 

I was about three years old. I was being dropped off at my daycare by my father. I  remember that I never wanted to go. Not because it was a bad place, I was just very attached to my parents. All I wanted was to be at home with my mom and dad, and so every time I was dropped off I would cry for who knows how long. In my small three year-old mind, I never had the notion to think that my crying might bother anyone else. I didn’t cry because I was afraid of someone there. I didn’t cry because I wanted to get attention. I just didn’t want my mom and dad to leave me. 

So as I said, one day I was being dropped off at daycare by my dad. I could feel the lump in my throat forming, the tears about to come as he left the room. But then I heard something. It was a young woman talking. I don’t remember her face, her name, or even how long she had been my teacher, but when I arrived she was talking to another worker there. And that’s when it happened. A very defining moment that would alter the rest of my life. 

When she saw me, I vividly remember her saying something to the other girl along the lines of, “Oh great, she’s here. Just wait, she’s going to cry, she always does. She never shuts up. It’s so annoying.” And they both rolled their eyes and laughed.

Now, I am an adult. I realize she had no idea I could hear her. I’m sure she didn’t hate me. In fact, I’ve worked in a daycare myself, I’ve seen children come in that cry often, and would be lieing if I said I never felt a tad bit annoyed or frustrated when a child wouldn’t stop having a tantrum. But I was only three at the time. I heard it, and I took very personal offense. 

This moment is one of my earliest memories, and what I remember about it the most is how I felt inside. I felt hated. For the first time in my life I felt like someone didn’t like me. I felt annoying. I felt unlovable. And I felt like I bothered this girl. Not only that, I immediately assumed that if I bothered her so much, then I must bother everyone else around me. 

So what did I do in that moment? For the first time ever, I didn’t cry when my dad left! In my mind, the hurt caused from her words and the sadness from missing my parents was immediately replaced with anger. “I’ll show her,” I thought. “I won’t let her have the satisfaction of being right and seeing me cry ever again.”

So I didn’t cry. And guess what? I never cried again, at least not in public. I wouldn’t dare let someone see me being weak. I wouldn’t give someone the opportunity to talk about me badly ever again. But with this deep resolve, I paid a very heavy price. 

I never let anyone see me cry again, but this also caused me to shut down completely. I didn’t let anyone see me show any emotions at all. I became very closed off, my guard was completely up. I would still talk to family, and I had friends, thank God, but I was very selective. I did not trust strangers or teachers. If someone seemed at all aggressive or was a dominating person, I wouldn’t talk to them. Not because I didn’t want to, I physically couldn’t. Something deep in my subconscious shifted that day and impacted my life from then on. 

I’ve always wondered why out of all the childhood memories I have, that one is so vivid and sticks out so clearly in my mind. I didn’t realize it until much later, but that moment was what caused me to dislike myself so much, and it changed my life forever. I don’t blame the girl, she didn’t know what she was doing. I just learned that it shows how powerful our subconscious minds are, even at a very young age.

Another issue that’s hindered my life has been due to the fact that I didn’t learn how to properly take care of myself. While I was a perfectionist at taking care of myself on the outside; meaning my hair was always done, I never left the house without makeup on, I always had to wear the cutest, most expensive clothing, I did very little for my mind and soul. I was always thinking negatively about myself. I didn’t think I was capable of accomplishing anything great. I didn’t have goals or dreams I believed would come true. I believed I had no talents and gifts, and I thought I was too shy to be good at anything.

My self-esteem was pretty much non-existant. I had nobody building me up or telling me to think otherwise. I also didn’t allow myself to do the things I really took pleasure in because nobody cool did those things. Instead, I partied, did what my friends did, listened to their music and dressed like them because it made me feel accepted. 

Looking back, I never even liked the people or things I surrounded myself with, but at the time, fitting in was the most important thing to me. Not surprisingly, I was never happy. I tried to be happy. I tried to force and fake it. I searched long and hard for happiness in people and things, but I just couldn’t find it. I realize now that I had hidden and suppressed my real self for so long that even I had lost sight of who I really was. 

Finding out how all of these thoughts came about in my life was such an astounding revelation, and once I did, I knew I was on the path toward healing these wounds I’ve carried for so long. As I continued to uncover all of the reasons why my feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem had developed, I decided to begin doing some research on how to overcome these demons. 

In my quest for discovery, I happened to stumble upon a really eye-opening video called How to Overcome Shyness from The School of Life YouTube channel. It talks about how many of us who suffer with social anxiety and feeling shy innately believe that shyness is an unfixable trait, and that we are incapable of ever feeling more confident in social situations. Because we believe it’s not fixable, we obviously don’t try to fix it because it feels hopeless. Thus, we never change! 

Thankfully, researchers have discovered that anyone can overcome social anxiety. The key to breakthrough is simply changing your thoughts. You do this by consistently replacing detrimental thought patterns with more positive, uplifting, self-loving affirmations. The key word here is consistently. You can’t do it one time and expect any significant changes to happen.

I always wondered why with some people I can barely even chat about the weather without wanting to run away, but with others, I can talk effortlessly about all sorts of topics for hours on end without ever feeling anxious, or like I don’t know what to say. From the School of Life video, I discovered that shy people have a very distinct way of interpreting ‘strangers’. We aren’t shy around everyone. We just become anxious and tongue-tied around those we perceive to be drastically different from us. The problem with this is, one, our perceptions and first impressions are rarely ever 100% accurate, and two, we make our beliefs and judgements based upon very surface-level traits; such as age, class, race, gender, tastes, backgrounds, religions, etc., instead of actually getting to know the real person and finding some sort of common ground. We unfairly categorize people into these fixed little boxes and deem them either ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ in our subconscious minds.

This video also explains that socially anxious people suffer so much due to having a personality trait called provincialism, which is “an over-attachment to the incidentals of one’s own life and experience that unfairly casts others into the role of daunting, unfathomable, and unknowable foreigners.” 

This means that when shy people have social contact with anyone that they perceive as being from a different ‘province’ because of some external difference, (whether it be age, race, class, gender, hobbies, etc.) the shy person subconsciously decides that there is absolutely nothing that can be said or done because the other person is so much different, so much greater, smarter, richer, prettier, (you fill in the blank), and they couldn’t possibly relate to each other because of that difference. 

You see, the mind of a shy person fixates on these differences and it seems impossible to get over feeling anxious because their is mind telling is them that person is dangerous due to being different. On the other hand, the mind of a person who isn’t socially anxious is still very well aware of the differences between themselves and others, they just refuse to believe that makes them unworthy or less than, and so, they aren’t afraid to interact with a diverse range of people. 

Shyness ultimately stems from a hyper-awareness of our own selves and our shortcomings, and believing that these shortcomings will bother other people. We who suffer from social anxiety have an outrageous belief that a stranger might be dissatisfied or discomforted by us. Shyness is feeling special or singled out, but in a negative way. We think everyone is going to notice us. And while our intentions are good and they sound very humble, meaning we truly don’t want the spotlight on us, this thinking has the exact opposite effect. These negative thoughts of, “Oh no, everyone’s going to notice me!” are, in fact, making it all about us. 

Shyness, in a sense, is actually a form of pride. We are too fearful of losing our dignity. We are afraid of doing simple things like asking for help, because we might be pitied or seen as ignorant by the other person. In an attempt to never look foolish, weak or strange, we build walls up so that others will think we have it all together. But the consequence of this isn’t what we want, which is to be seen as having it all together. Instead, it tends to make us seem rude or stuck-up, and obviously makes forming relationships with others very difficult.

I’ve got good news though. Nobody is really noticing you all that much. It’s hard to believe, I know. To convince my own mind of this, I ask myself questions such as, 

“When someone else gets an answer wrong in class, do I belittle them in my mind? 

Do I stare at people going to the bathroom and wonder what took them so long when they come back? 

Do I remember that so-and-so already wore that shirt last month? 

Do I get annoyed with a person who asks me for help?” 

No! 

Well guess what? They don’t think that way either. I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t that important. In all honesty, everyone is too worried about themselves to think about your mistakes, what you look like or what you are doing. 

I have decided that from here on out, I am going to start saying no to fear, and start saying yes to things that scare me,  especially in social situations. Will I face rejection every now and then? Probably. Will I feel anxious? Of course. Will it kill me? No! I just desperately want to be free and I have so many dreams I want to accomplish, and in order to do these things I must be myself. I have to step out of my comfort zone and do the very things that my mind tells me I’m not capable of doing. 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit because my whole life I’ve told myself it was selfish and arrogant, but deep down, I do love myself. Who am I to believe that there aren’t people out there who will like me just the way I am? And so what if people don’t like me? My biggest fear has always been being disliked, but while it’s true that since I’ve kept myself hidden I haven’t given anyone much reason to dislike me, I’ve also not given many people much reason to like me either. How ironic! I’m hoping that taking this step allows me to finally find ‘my people’, instead of settling for those who I don’t much care for, but still hang out with just so I won’t feel lonely. I know I will make mistakes, and I’m sure I will sometimes still give in to fear, but I refuse to settle, or stay stuck and stagnant any longer. 

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you so much. I don’t know how helpful it was, but it was something I had to bring to light in order to be set free, even if no one reads, relates or understands it. 

If you have social anxiety, I want you to know that I get it. It’s hard. It’s lonely, but you aren’t the only one. You are not weird. You are not unlovable. And you don’t have to be this way forever. This disorder can be  defeated. There’s no need to be ashamed of it anymore. Bring it to light, ask God to heal you of it, and ask him to use what you went through for His greater good. 

If you suffer from this, I ask you to look back throughout your life, find the moment where it all began. At what point in time did you start to believe the lies that you weren’t good enough? That you were less than? That you were unworthy of love? That you should be ashamed of yourself? Find out who or where those lies came from, and refuse to accept them any longer. Then, every time you start to have a negative thought about yourself, replace it with truth. Turn the negative thoughts into positive, uplifting ones. And absolutely no more shame and hiding who you are. God can’t heal what you won’t bring out into the light.

It takes time and effort, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. You see, the mind of someone with social anxiety and low self-esteem is so accustomed to negative thought patterns because they’ve been thinking this way for so long that negativity is their mind’s automatic response. But the more the mind is fed with positive, loving thoughts, the more accustomed it will become to positive thinking, and thus, the mind will begin to think positive thoughts with much greater ease. It’s by no means easy, but it is so incredibly worth it. 

With that being said, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Bible verses.

“So be content with who you and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God, he is most careful with you.” 

1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message Version

This is my go-to verse when I’m about to do something really scary, especially socially-wise. God commands us to simply be ourselves and to get rid of the fake outer persona, by stripping down to our true, God-given self. When we do this, God will bless us beyond belief, and his grace will allow us to do the seemingly impossible  because it takes great courage and faith to do this. My advice is to trust God, stop worrying, and start being your true, authentic self. I promise when you do that, life will be so much better and you will finally be free. 

If you are struggling immensely in this area, please don’t hesitate to reach out,  it’s what I’m here for. 🙂 As always, please comment or share this post if it resonated with you!  

Also, if you would to like watch the video How to Overcome Shyness, I have inserted the link below. It was incredibly eye-opening and helped me tremendously! I definitely recommend watching it. 🙂 

How to Overcome Shyness

New Beginnings

To be honest, whenever I look in the mirror as of lately, I don’t particularly like what I see staring back at me. It’s not that I think I’m fat, but my body definitely isn’t the one I want. 

The body I want is one that is toned, strong, healthy and has a high endurance. The body I want is one I believe I’m more than capable of obtaining if only I cultivate traits like hard work, persistence, and most importantly, belief in myself. 

I don’t have that body right now. But instead of berating my body, crying in a bout of self-pity, or blaming bad genes, a lack of time, and just the sheer difficulty of exercise and healthy eating in general like I always used to do, I decided to look at the situation logically. What I realized was this: 

The only one to blame for my disappointment is me

I could have the body I want. I could get toned. I could feel stronger and healthier. The fact that I don’t have the body I want is not due to a lack of time, money or experience. I can no longer blame my parents for not pushing me harder to be more fit during my childhood. I can’t do these things anymore, because it’s always been my choice to not lead a healthy life, even if the choice was made subconsciously most of the time. If I never obtain the body I want, I’m the only one there is to blame. 

If the old me was reading this, being told that getting fit was all up to me would’ve made me want to give in before I even got started. This is because ‘I can’t do it by myself!’ was always my go-to mindset. But now that I know the power of the mind, and that I can literally do anything as long as I believe I can, knowing that it’s all up to me takes the stressful feeling away! 

While it’s true that nothing else in this world can make me get into shape, it’s also true that nothing else in this world can stop it from happening either! It’s totally, 100% up to me. So with this new awareness, I am choosing to get fit and I am choosing to stay committed to my goals, no matter what challenges present themselves throughout the process.

I have tried to get in shape countless times before, but I could never make it past a month or two. This is because thoughts like, “I’m not good enough, strong enough, athletic enough… It’s too hard…I don’t have time… I can’t afford the gym…I can’t do that because of my anxiety… I’m so weak… I’ve been working out for a week and I don’t see any results…It’ll take years to get to the place I want to be, so why bother?” consumed my mind and kept me from staying committed to living a healthy lifestyle.

The list of negative thoughts I’ve had when trying to get in shape in the past could go on for hours. Thankfully, now I am not only aware of how bad negativity is for me, but I’ve finally internalized the belief that negative thinking does nothing but hold me back. 

I must mention, this new way of thinking certainly wasn’t an overnight transformation. Because negative thinking was engrained so deeply in my subconscious for years, it was definitely a challenge learning how to rewire the strong patterns that had been created within my mind. But I finally decided enough was enough. All my life I listened to and believed the negative thoughts that entered my mind. I always gave into the negative thinking, which is also why I would always quickly give up on trying to become fit. In my mind, I truly believed that fitness just wasn’t in the cards for me. This one negative thought led to negative words about myself, which led to negative actions, or I guess I should say in this case, a lack of positive actions in my life. 

You see, thoughts, words and actions, are directly linked and greatly affect one another. Since I’ve learned this, I’ve been on a journey of renewing my mind and changing my life to make it one filled with purpose and fulfillment. And once I changed my thoughts, things became increasingly better for me in this area of life. So when I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, I thought, “If this mentality works for my career goals, why can’t I apply it to fitness as well? Why can’t I get the body I want? Be as fit as I want? Be as strong as I want?” And then it hit me; I most definitely can! 

So I’ve decided I will. It’s going to be hard, and no doubt there will be many times I’ll want to give up, but I’m so sick and tired of not being who I want to be. Fortunately, getting to this place is actually a blessing in disguise, because it’s exactly where true change and transformation begin. As the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert said in her book, Big Magic

 

I’m tired of my excuses. I selfishly want this, which is good, because this is what it’s going to take to make this goal become a reality in my life. It must come first. I have to want it more than anything else. Besides, if I don’t start now, then when? I’m certainly not getting any younger, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. 

It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.

-Hugh Laurie

It’s not about being ready, it simply comes down to how badly I want it. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is going to suck in the beginning; there’s just no getting around it. But I’d rather live through the pain of hard work and soreness, than the pain of regret, or the pain of feeling sick, tired, and insecure for the rest of my life. 

My body, and yours, love us so much. They work so hard to heal and protect us. I’ve decided that it’s about time I return the favor and show my body just how much I love it back. After all it’s done for me, I simply refuse to take it for granted and mistreat it anymore. My body deserves good health. It deserves love. It was made to be pushed. It was made for hard work and movement. I’m ready to give it all I’ve got. 

I am certainly no fitness or health expert. I’m just beginning this journey. So if you have any fitness tips or advice on how you got fit, or how to stay committed to a healthier lifestyle, please let me know! I will keep you all updated on my new journey, in hopes that you all will hold me accountable! If anyone else is going through the same thing and needs some encouragement, just let me know, I’d be more than happy to help! If I can do this, then you most certainly can too! We are in this together! Stay strong. đź–¤

Choosing an Attitude of Gratitude: 10 Things I’m Grateful For 

In today’s world, due to the presence of social media being so widespread, it’s very easy to get caught up in comparing our lives to those of others, or wanting things that we don’t have. This leaves many of us never feeling fully satisfied. I’ll admit, if I’m not careful, I have the tendency to fall into this trap of always wanting more, and comparing my life to the lives of those who I believe are happier or more successful than me, and then allowing this to negatively affect my mood. 

Thankfully, I’ve finally realized how unhealthy this is. I already have so much to be grateful for, and when I do nothing but complain about what I don’t have, I’m basically telling God all the wonderful things He has provided me with aren’t enough. That His love for me is not enough. I don’t want to do this anymore, because I love Him and the life He’s given me!

Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this, and that is choosing to have a grateful attitude. Everytime I practice expressing gratitude, my mood is instantly lifted, my stress vanishes, and I am reminded how good my God is. I also remember how He’s always provided for me in the past, and when this happens, the stress of feeling like I’m lacking something is gone because I know He is sure to provide for me in the future.

So today, I’m going to go a little deeper with my gratitude practice by sharing with you 10 things I’m grateful for!

1. Coffee 


First on my gratitude list is coffee, or basically anything with a few shots of espresso in it. Whenever I lose motivation to complete an important task on my to-do list, bribing myself with some Starbucks is almost always enough motivation to do the trick for me. Plus, it also helps my brain focus better on the task at hand. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my daily dose of caffeine!


2. Bubble Baths 

Call me crazy, but if they weren’t so time-consuming, I would literally take a bubble bath everyday! There’s nothing quite like the relaxation I get from turning down the lights, lighting a few candles, listening to music or reading a good book, and putting in a scented bubble bath or bath bomb. To me, it’s the perfect way to unwind and end my day. 

P.s. I really want that pink tub!


3. Books


I love reading so much this one could be put on the list twice. I’ve had a deep love of reading for as long as I can remember. There’s just something about the feeling that a good book invokes in me. When I find a book I love it truly feels as if I’m escaping into another world, and I find it very hard to get back out. One of my favorite things ever is reading a good novel on a rainy day in bed. Those days are much needed, and I’m so thankful whenever I get one!


4. Music


If given the choice of music or TV, I would choose music, hands-down, every time. Music is such an escape and stress-reliever for me. I love music that I can really resonate with, that allows me to create a story in my mind whenever I to listen it. I find the music I love is very personal to me, and I often have a hard time sharing my playlists with others because of this. I love so many artists, but my absolute favorite in the entire world is Lana Del Rey. She’s the best! Her music takes me to another world.


5. Long Scenic Drives


Whenever I am overwhelmed and need some time to recharge, I go on a long drive out in nature.  Really just wherever I can go to look at pretty scenery; preferably somewhere with lots of trees! Even if it’s only for an hour or so, just escaping for a little while is like medicine for my soul whenever I’m feeling stressed.


6. Impractical Jokers (TV Show)


Oh my gosh. Have you ever seen this show? Now I understand this kind of humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it absolutely hilarious. It’s about four friends who challenge one another to do crazy/ embarrassing things in public. It’s a competition-based show, and if one of the guys doesn’t do the given embarrassing task asked of them, they lose and then have to be punished in an even more humiliating way. It sounds dumb (it kind of is) but I laugh so much throughout the show that my stomach hurts, so I don’t even care! I guess you could say it’s my guilty pleasure. Every time I watch this show I’m instantly put in a good mood and for that I’m so grateful!


7. Family


Being both an introvert and an infj personality type, I often find it hard to connect with new people. Which is why I am so grateful for my family, and also why if you are my close friend, you are basically considered family to me. They know I’m a person who needs lots of space and time to recharge, and they happily give it to me.  But at the same time, they are always there if I ever need anything. I know I can be a complicated person and difficult to understand at times, which is why I’m so thankful that they just accept me as I am. Unfortunately, it took me too many years to learn to truly appreciate my family, but now I am so extremely grateful for all the sacrifices they have made for me and I want to do whatever I can to return the favor!

8. Summertime


There’s just no other time of the year that’s as wonderful to me as summer. I live for the days sitting poolside, going on spontaneous adventures, and just chilling in my backyard reading and writing. The days are longer and the nights are warmer, and I feel a certain freedom in the summer that I don’t feel any other time of the year. Simply put, everything’s sweeter in the summertime. 

9. Children


I may be a little biased studying to be a teacher and all, but I am so grateful for kids. I have none of my own yet, but I’ve spent several years working in schools, daycares, after-school programs and babysitting, and have learned some priceless lessons during my experiences. I admire children’s wild imaginations, as well as their ability to believe and have faith without first seeing proof. I  appreciate their ability to see the fun and beauty in life, how they remember what’s most important, and how they don’t take life too seriously. They are simply themselves, honest and not afraid to love. I used to be a child like this, but somewhere along the way, like most people, I lost my inner child. I traded her in for a miserable adult. Now that I’ve gone back to my childhood roots, I am so happy and life seems full of possibility. I know as an adult I have responsibilities, and I make sure to take care of them all, but after working with children so much the past few years I have once again become more free-spirited and relaxed. I’ve started to show more love to those I care about. I take time to do what I love, and I enjoy the small moments. There’s truly so much we can learn from kids if we’ll just take the time to pay attention.


10. My Body

And last but certainly not least, I’m grateful for my body and its’ capabilities. The fact that I can walk, talk, hear, see, smell, run, dance, work, and even breathe is truly a gift that I take for granted everyday. When I sit and think about people who can’t do one or more of these things and how much it would affect my life if I lost any of these abilities, I feel ashamed of myself for complaining about other things. When I look at it from this perspective, all my complaints seem so trivial. Because I had an anxiety disorder, for a very long time I only saw my body and mind as sick and weak, and I hated my body for feeling the way it did. Now I realize how strong I actually was to push through that difficult time period in my life, and I’m so blessed because that’s really the only major health issue I’ve ever had. My only regret in life has been waiting so long to get my mind and body healthy, and not making both my mental and physical health a priority earlier on in life. My body, and yours, literally work so hard to heal and protect us. Our bodies love us tremendously. I’m so eternally grateful for this body and life that I’ve been given. I just want to do everything I can to show I love it back.

So that’s my gratitude list! What’s on yours? I’d love to know what puts you in a good mood and learn about the things you’re grateful for! As always, feel free to share my blog with others, or comment below if this post resonated with you! Thanks! đź’•

What’s Stopping You?

Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Lately I’ve been on a journey of sorts. After years of being anxiety-ridden, sad and bored with life, not to mention feeling lost, insecure and like I had accomplished very few things of importance or signifigance, I decided enough was enough. I was ready for a change, and I was ready to live a happy life, no matter what it took. Although I am still on this journey and have plenty of room for further improvement, I am now happier and more at peace than I have ever been. On top of that, I finally feel capable of defeating all of my inner demons and going after my dreams. 

Since I’ve been on this journey, I have come to learn that this isn’t working for me because I’m lucky or special, but everyone (including you!) is capable of doing incredible things, and leading exciting, passion-fueled, fulfilling lives. So, if this kind of life is possible for everyone, then why do so few people actually end up living this way?

When it comes down to it, the answer is really quite simple. If you aren’t living the kind of life that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning, it’s all because of you! You are the only thing stopping yourself from living the life you love. 

While that may sound depressing, don’t fear, because once you begin to fully comprehend what this means for your life, it’s really quite liberating. We each have unique dreams deep inside of us that so badly want to be brought to life. These desires aren’t arbitrary; they’re within us for a reason! The only thing that prevents your dreams from actually being brought to life is your lack of belief. Not other people, not your past, not your luck, not your current situation. YOU. You and you alone hold the key to your happiness, your future and the manifestion of your dreams. 

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, or that your dream could never happen for someone like you, then guess what? It won’t! 

The mind is a funny thing. You see, it doesn’t care what you tell it. It’s job is to simply do what you tell it. It just wants to make you happy. So when contradict your dreams by telling yourself that what you want is is too hard or too scary to be done, or you aren’t ready or you aren’t “_________” enough, your mind prevents it from happening. This is because even though you would really like if (insert your dream here) happened, your brain hears your negative talk about yourself, or the process it will take to get you there and thinks things like, 

“Hard and scary?!” Or, “I’m probably not talented enough or smart enough for (insert your dream)?! Yeah, that sounds unpredictable. And unpredictable equals dangerous. It’s my job to keep her away from things that are dangerous. So, let’s make her feel anxious when she thinks about it, and give her a panic attrack every time she tries it, that way she knows how dangerous it is and won’t try again.”

So often, we don’t align our thinking and the words we speak with our greatest desires, which is why our minds never let them manifest. 

It doesn’t matter how much you wish something would happen. If your brain thinks your wishes are scary because you tell it they are, it will always fight against them because it thinks it’s protecting you. Which is awfully sweet, but highly unhelpful.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost for you! The good news is, you can literally rewire your entire brain. All you have to do is change your thoughts and words. You can make your dreams happen, but you must repeatedly tell yourself that you like doing and are happily choosing whatever it takes to get you there. 

Want to get in shape? Instead of saying things like, “Oh I really want to get that beach body, but I just dread going to the gym. I hate exercising. I don’t have time! I’m so out of shape, it will take forever.”

Say, “I love working out. It makes me feel so good. I love being sore because it’s progress I can feel. I have plenty of time to exercise and still get everything else on my list done.” 

Want to start a new career? Instead of saying things like, “I’m too old. What if it doesn’t work out? I’m not skilled enough. It’s too much work to begin now.” 

Say, “I can’t wait to start this new journey. I’m so glad I have a goal. I am capable. I am likeable. God’s favor is upon me. I will make this happen!”

This can be done for any dream you have, regardless of your age. You just have to trick your mind into doing what you want it to. As I said before, your mind doesn’t care what you tell it, it just wants you to be happy. So, if you repeatedly tell yourself you love doing something and want to do it, your brain goes, “Oh, wait, I like this? This brings me joy? I want to do this? Okay, I’ll keep on doing it then!” Because you brain is automatically wired toward pleasure, when you tell yourself you love something and you’re choosing that something, your brain will work with you, rather than against you, to get it done.  

People cannot make their dreams come true from talent alone. There are plenty of people in this world with an enormous amount of underlying talent that never see anything come of it. Talent is good, but it is not enough. No, people make their dreams come true simply through the relentless belief that they are going to. And because they truly, wholeheartedly believe in themselves, they don’t give up. They know success will come in due time.

If you are anything like the person I once was, where high anxiety consumes the majority of your life, you may be thinking, “Changing my thoughts sounds good and all, but how can I when the fear I feel is so great? I’ll have to wait until the fear stops. Then I’ll be ready to change and start going after my dreams.” 

As much as I wish I could tell you  differently, fear is never going to magically go away if you are trying something new and unfamiliar. Trust me, I searched for years. I wanted a new, exciting and fulfilling life, but I didn’t want to do it afraid. I hoped that if waited long enough, it would go away on its own. I wanted an instant fix to end the fear, but much to my dismay, there was none to be found.

So if this is currently you, you have two choices. The first choice is to keep giving in to fear by sticking with what feels safe and familiar. Although this path provides the comfort of safety, the consequence of choosing this path is that you will never see your dreams become a reality. 

Your other option is to bring fear along for the ride with you. Let it talk, let it bring its’ uncomfortable feelings, but keep going anyway. It’ll fight you kicking and screaming, and will list reason after reason why you shouldn’t try. It’ll beg and plead for you to quit, but I promise you, the longer you keep going, the weaker the fear will get. When it sees its’ efforts aren’t working, it’ll become smaller and smaller until one day you’ll look around and realize that the thing you feared so much isn’t really all that scary anymore. And the more you keep doing things afraid, the more you will begin to see fear for what it really is, simply a fleeting feeling. Fear cannot hurt you. Fear is only temporary. And it can only hold you back if you choose to let it. 

With that being said, I know it’s incredibly hard, and it isn’t something that happens overnight. But my biggest hope is that you will stop letting fear run your life. Stop letting fear win. Have the courage to believe in yourself and go after your dreams. You are so worthy of them. Be the person who decides to go for it. The only difference between those that lead successful lives, and those that don’t is people who choose to go after what they want day after day, even when the results aren’t immediate, because they believe with everything in them that they will manifest. If it worked for me, I know it will work for you!

As always, please leave a comment below or share my blog with others if this post resonated with you! Stay strong đź–¤

Kara🌸✨🖤

What Will You Choose?

In my last blog post, I talked about decisions. More specifically, I talked about the importance of letting go of the fear of making wrong decisions, and instead, releasing the outcome to the one who is in control.

However, I must note that while yes, I do need to release my need to try and control both anxious feelings and situational outcomes, this DOES NOT give me an excuse to sit back and do nothing while waiting for a miracle to occur in my life.

Following the no-more-worrying attitude, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “Well God says don’t worry. He’s got a future for me! So I’m just going to sit back and wait on Him, and not have a care in the world. If it’s meant to be, it will happen anyway.” This thought process is very dangerous to have because doing “nothing” will get you just that, nothing! You can’t sit back and wish for things to happen to you, you must go after them. Otherwise, nothing in your life will change, and you will not experience any substantial growth.

I’ve learned that while I don’t by any means need to worry, I do need to work.

If you are anything like me, hearing the word “work” doesn’t usually produce a happy feeling within you. When I think of work, a few words come to mind: hard, stressful, boring, dreadful, time-consuming…you get the point. Work is not fun!

However, I’ve come to realize that what I do for “work” doesn’t have to follow these terms anymore because now I am only working toward things I love. If I don’t love it, it’s gotta go. I no longer have the time or mental energy to give to things that don’t excite my soul and propel me forward.

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, but working hard for something we love is called passion.

I want to be passionate about everything I invest my time in. Why live any other way? Life is too short. I used to think this was a selfish mindset. I used to think it was wrong to love yourself, to put yourself first sometimes. Now I realize why I was never happy and was always feeling mentally and physically drained! It’s because I wasn’t doing what I was meant to, and I was allowing people to suck the life out of me. I had given away everything I had left in me to things I wasn’t passionate about, and I was depleted. This led to a huge amount of anxiety, depression and isolation in my life. It’s not wrong to give to people, in fact I strongly encourage it. But to give, you have to be full yourself first. If you keep on giving without ever filling yourself up, your going to eventually run out of things to give and will wear yourself down in the process.

I have lost a lot of people in my life from allowing myself to finally be who I really am, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I thought losing them would make me feel lonely and sad, and that’s why I held on for so long. Now that I’ve finally faced my fears and let these people go, I feel happier, my soul feels lighter, and I finally feel free. I’m no longer wasting time giving my energy to people or things that don’t help me grow or to those who bring negativity to my life.

As I said, if we ever want to make our dreams a reality, we have to get to work. And while it doesn’t have to be hard, it can be time-consuming, and may take longer than we would like to manifest. Therefore, something I have to continually ask myself in regards to each of my dreams is: How bad do I want this in my life? Because if I kinda want it to happen, I’m kinda going to put forth the effort to achieve it, and then I’m going to only kinda get some results. I’ve come to find that if I don’t feel like making enough time each day to do something to get me closer to a particular goal, then it probably isn’t really that important to me, and thus, is not worth my time or energy.

A “kinda”  attitude will kill your dreams just as much as doubt will.

How do I know? Because it’s the way I’ve always lived. I’ve always kinda wanted to get in shape. I kinda want to move away. I kinda want to write and start a blog, and the list goes on…

Until I decided I really, truly, wanted these things to happen, they never did. All because I didn’t put forth any long-lasting effort toward accomplishing them. However, once I changed my attitude, and started seeing work as something positive and fun instead of negative and miserable, changing my actions became much easier. The more I changed my actions, the more everything else started to fall into place, and now, I am beginning to finally see my goals manifest in real-life.

When I graduated high school in 2010, I had absolutely no goals, and no idea what I wanted to do. A lot of it was fear-related, but a lot of it was also that I didn’t know myself enough to know what I wanted to do. So I went to school as an undecided major, (which I must add, there is nothing wrong with. I’m glad I started when I did because I was able to complete all the pre-requisite classes I needed to have anyway. Don’t feel ashamed for being unsure!). My thoughts were, “I kinda want to major in _____ but I don’t know,  could I really do that? Me? I’m not good enough, smart enough, talented enough. I kinda see myself graduating, I kinda want a degree…” You can probably see where this was headed. My grades were just average, even though I was capable of making A’s, but I didn’t care. And why? Because I only kinda had a goal. So guess what happened? I dropped out, because I was burned out. It felt pointless, like I was driving on a road going nowhere, so I thought, why bother trying anymore? I just gave up.

However, I eventually decided that enough was enough. I was miserable with my life, and it was headed nowhere I wanted to be. So, despite being terrified, totally unsure, and not at all confident in my abilities whatsoever, I decided to take the jump, and I got back into school. Each day was hard in the beginning. Everything felt overwhelming and my anxiety was sky-high. The only difference was that this time, I really, truly wanted it, and I wasn’t going to let the fear hold me back.

So I let go of control. Control of my anxiety, control of how my body felt, control of the thoughts that entered my mind, and control of the outcomes. I just did my very best everyday; and my best varied from day to day, depending on how anxious I was feeling. But that’s not what was important. What mattered was that I simply made the decision to go after each day with everything I had in me. And now? I’m one semester away from graduating. I currently have a 4.0 for the first time in my life. I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I know I will soon achieve my goal.

In no way am I trying to brag. I just want you to know that this can be you too. I never in a million years thought I could be a teacher or start a blog, because of certain things I thought I lacked, and because of who I thought was. But ever since I changed my thoughts and made the decision to renew my mind daily, my life has been so much better. I just want you to know that if I can do it, then you certainly can too!

Whatever it is that stirs up your heart, whatever you are passionate about, you can do it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the answers yet, or don’t know how you will get there. Just take it one day at a time. Give your personal best each day, and always remember, you can’t achieve it all in one day. You will get where you want with this mindset, along with a little bit of patience, effort and commitment. You just have to make that decision. Don’t stay stuck. Put your dreams into action. I know you can’t see all of your steps right now, but trust me, once you take the first one, the second one will appear. Once you take the second step, somehow, the third one will appear. It’s truly amazing to see just how God will show up for you in your life, as long as you take trust Him and take the leap, however small of a leap it may be.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and wish you had done certain things when you had the chance. You can either live through the pain of hard work on the way to achieving your goals, or you can live with the pain of regret from what you didn’t do. Please, don’t choose the latter! Take the jump. You’ll be so glad you did.

Below is one of my all-time favorite videos about taking risks, stepping out of your comfort zone, overcoming all your fears, and going after your dreams in life. This guy’s message is so amazing and it is what inspired this blog post. I should warn you though- this video might have you in tears by the end! Anyway, I thought I would share for those of you who have yet to see it! Enjoy 🙂

 

As always, feel free to leave a comment or message me if you have something to share or need to talk! ❤

 

Letting Go of Control

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the Cheshire cat, “it doesn’t matter. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Do you ever feel like Alice, lost and alone in a strange world, with no map to follow, and too many choices ahead of you? You may feel that even if you had a map, it wouldn’t help you much because you don’t quite know where you want to end up. All you know is that you want to get far away from where you currently are. You might ask yourself, what happens if I choose a path, but it turns out to be the wrong one? What if I can’t go back and start over? How do I choose the best path? How long will it take? How hard will it be? Will this decision lead to happiness? With so many choices in life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and then stay stuck where you are for fear of making the wrong choice.

I’ve felt this way, stuck, confused and doubting myself, much more than I would like to admit. So believe me when I say that for the first time pretty much ever in my life, I am extremely excited that I finally have goals I wholeheartedly believe I will achieve. There’s just one little problem: I have absolutely NO idea what all it is going to take to get me there.

Now you might be thinking, if you don’t know how you are going to get there, then what could possibly make you believe your goals are actually going to manifest? Well, that’s exactly what my initial thought was. In fact, that’s what my initial thought has been throughout my entire life, which is why I haven’t accomplished many of the things I want to.

One of my biggest problems is that I’ve always wished for things.

Every time I wished something would happen in my life, I would think to myself, “Just maybe, one day, by some crazy miracle, if I do enough good things for God, then just maybe he might let (insert dream) happen to me…” After wishing, I would immediately start trying to come up with a master plan of how to accomplish that dream. I would think about who I was and where I was currently at in my life, and then tried to envision who I wanted to be and where I wanted to be, and the gap seemed insurmountable. My mind would race far into the future, and since I didn’t instantly have answers on how to get there, I would quickly become depleted and think, “Yeah, that’s never going to happen. So much for wishful thinking…” I thought that because I couldn’t visualize the entire way, there must not be one.

And guess what happened? Nothing!

My dreams never came true because I gave up on them just as soon as they would come into my mind. I’d allow myself 30 seconds to try and come up with a life-plan, and would then wonder why everything always seemed impossible. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I continued doing time and time again.

Thankfully, over the past year or so, I’ve finally come to accept something that has been absolutely life changing for me: I will never have all the answers right away, but I shouldn’t let that stop me from going forward and making them happen.

So, as I mentioned previously, I finally have dreams that I know I will achieve, but I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there just yet. One of my goals is to become an elementary teacher. While yes, I know the big things I need to do in order to accomplish this, such as student teaching this fall, applying for graduation, and earning my degree, I have NO idea where I will teach, what grade I will teach, or what it will be like to have my own classroom. I know I want to become a published author someday, and I really want to get a following going on my blog, but I don’t know exactly how to do these things, or what I want to write about just yet. I know I want to move out of state once I graduate, but I’m not exactly sure where or when, if I will move alone or with someone, or if it will be temporary or lifelong.

Up until recently, I would’ve stopped right here. It would all be too much for my brain. Not already knowing each exact step I need to take to reach these goals would increase my anxiety to no end, and so I would shut the ideas down. Now, I’m learning to let go of control. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the “best” decision is. I don’t know how exactly to get where I want to be. However, the beauty of this transitional point in my life is that it’s taught me that God will only let me know the steps when I need to know them, and no sooner. I can’t speed up His timing in my life. He doesn’t tell me because I’m just not ready yet, and that’s okay, because preparation is a process. So, He gives me glimpses of small details, one day at a time, at just the right time.

I can look back at other times in my life when I felt so lost and confused, and had no idea what the future held, and He wasn’t telling me a thing. I begged and pleaded for more guidance and answers, but they didn’t come when I wanted them. Upon reflection, I now realize it was better that God didn’t give me all the answers when I wanted them. It’s likely that I would’ve quit early, because I know I would have been so worried about all the things I’ve had to do that anxiety used to tell me I couldn’t do. But as I continued to push myself, I got stronger day by day, and as I received God’s daily grace, I was able to do these things my anxiety told me were “impossible”, when the time came for me to do them.

I won’t lie, right now it does feel like I have an overwhelming amount of choices. Which one is the RIGHT one? Which will lead me to the best life? What if I make the wrong decision? Am I wasting my time? What if moving isn’t the right thing for me? The questions are endless! I must admit, I do not know, but I’m starting to think that’s the whole point. I’m starting to see this period of transition as a beautiful and exciting place to be. I get to create my own future. I am the master of my own fate. And you are too! How cool is that? I know deep within my soul that if I keep believing, am proactive with my goals, and do something everyday that pushes me toward them, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, I will get to where I am supposed to be. God will show me exactly what I am supposed to do, day by day, in each moment, as I continue to trust in Him.

Since I have internalized this belief in my mind, it has been such a relief for me both mentally and physically. I no longer feel the urge to worry about what I will do in a year or two from now. I’m learning how to plan ahead, while simultaneously living in the moment, taking life one day at a time. The peace this new attitude toward life has brought me has been astounding and life-changing.

I’ve learned the hard way that the only “wrong” or “bad” choice is making none at all! Staying stuck in what is safe and familiar, instead of venturing out to the unknown because you are afraid of what could go wrong, will never give you the life you want. While this was a difficult thing to learn, I am so glad that I did. Now I know that no matter which path I choose to follow, or which decisions I make, that I will end up where I’m supposed to. There is no way I could ever predict the outcomes of each path I could possibly take in my life anyway, so why bother worrying about them? I must keep moving, and release control to the one who it belongs to in the first place. Now, I am perfectly content to let Him take the driver’s seat, while I sit back and enjoy the journey on the way to where I am headed.

I can’t wait to see where life takes me. What used to cause fear, now provides me with a sense of peace and hope. I don’t know the ending, but that gives me something to look forward to. Whereas my life used to feel like a dead end, now, the possibilities are endless. Just know that the same goes for you. If you have a story you’d like to share about your journey, feel free to leave a comment. If you are feeling overwhelmed with decisions, anxiety, or life in general, feel free to message me anytime. I’d love to hear from you! Below is a quote I found that I really resonate with, so I thought I would share. 🙂

I needed to read this.:

On a final note, making life-altering decisions can be terrifying, or it can be absolutely amazing. It’s all up to you to decide. Which one will you choose?

My Journey with Anxiety

Anxiety.

We use this word so often today that it has become almost meaningless in our society.

While everyone does experience feelings of anxiety from time to time, some others, including me, experience life in a constant state of alert. For us, our minds never stop running. It comes on quickly and unexpectedly. Our hearts race fast, we feel lightheaded and nauseous, we can’t stop shaking, lights and sounds are overwhelming, we feel suffocated, and the list goes on. Our own mind is a prison we can’t escape.

Severe anxiety has been an ongoing occurrence in my life for the past four years. However, upon reflection, I realize I’ve always been anxious, I just didn’t always know that what I was feeling wasn’t normal. I had social anxiety as a child, and to this day I still do, although I am able to hide it much better now. As a child, I literally wouldn’t speak to people I didn’t know. And it’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that I physically couldn’t. My whole body would freeze up and my mind would stop working. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know how to explain it to my parents, let alone anyone else. The crazy thing was, at home, I was great. I felt safe and free to be myself. Those who actually knew me found it hard to believe I was so shy in other places. It was by far the worst at school. Thankfully, each year I had a few select friends who I talked to effortlessly that were able to help me not feel totally isolated. The older I grew, the more I realized that this was not okay, but it felt impossible to change. My identity was “the quiet girl”. I was so deeply rooted in fearful thought patterns of what might happen if I did try to change. What if I failed? What if people didn’t like the real me?

I know this probably sounds really stupid to people who’ve never experienced social anxiety, but to me it was always a huge deal. I didn’t want to be noticed. I hated attention from people I didn’t know. It literally made my insides cringe. So I stayed silent, and unfortunately missed out on a lot of things other kids my age got to experience because of my fears. Luckily, I was never bullied for being shy. But I do remember many times where I’d meet someone new, or an outgoing kid in class would finally notice me for the first time and ask, (always in front of other people, too), “Why don’t you talk?” It was the worst question. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. They wanted an answer. But what do you say to that question? I never had an answer, and I still don’t. Every time I was asked this I would get so angry at that person. “Why are they bothering me? I don’t ask them why they are so loud.” But even deeper than my anger toward them was my anger toward myself, for giving them a reason to ask that question in the first place. For making myself an outcast. There were plenty of times when I truly hated who I was.

In high school, I made some friends who didn’t go to my previous schools, so they didn’t know my reputation as the “shy girl”. These friends were all very outgoing people. We went to parties every weekend and life was so fun. I started to forget the person people thought I was. At these parties, I could talk to people. I could be someone else. They didn’t know my past. They didn’t think I was weird. But there was always that thought lingering in the back of my mind. “Don’t let them get too close. They might find out who you really are, and they definitely won’t like you. You are too weird. They’ll leave you if they really know what you’re like and if they know who you once were.” So, I pushed a lot of people away, or purposefully didn’t get too close. In my mind, it was better to leave someone, than to be left. I didn’t want to be the one to blame for failed relationships, because then I would have to come face to face with the ugly demons inside of my mind.

I graduated high school in 2010. Fast forward a few years to 2012. The year I met the guy I am currently in a relationship with. The beginning of this relationship seemed like a dream. I thought he was perfect, definitely too good for me. However, unbeknownst to me, the person I thought he was was all just a cover-up. In reality, he was an alcoholic, and had a lot of mental issues that he hid very well due to what I now realize is part of his narcissistic personality disorder. I went through a great amount of verbal abuse from him, and he made me feel like I truly deserved it. He made me believe I was not a good person. I now realize that along with my well-hidden social anxiety and negative thought patterns I’d had since childhood, the verbal abuse I experienced from him was a major cause of  the horrible anxiety I soon after began experiencing.

For me, the panic attacks and other anxiety symptoms came on overnight. One day I woke up and just didn’t feel right. I felt disconnected from the world around me. After much research, I came to the conclusion that I was experiencing something called derealization, which left me feeling like I was in a fog constantly, like nothing was real. Everything seemed “off” but I couldn’t quite explain how, even to myself. Soon, I could no longer even go to restaurants or the grocery store. Lights and sounds were too much stimulation for me. Any time I was out in public, I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I would start shaking, sure I was going to pass out. The derealization was so bad, it felt so otherworldly, that it would make the panicky feelings intensify because I thought I was going crazy. I was so scared of feeling this way, and not knowing why, that I became completely isolated me from the people and places I once loved. I felt trapped in my mind. I couldn’t tell my boyfriend, because anytime I tried to tell him my problems he would just tell me how over-dramatic and stupid I was being. I thought I was legitimately sick or going crazy, and it terrified me. I always managed to keep a job, but going to work was almost unbearable. I always dreaded it because I never knew what symptoms I was going to feel. I didn’t tell anyone. Surely, they wouldn’t understand. So I kept my suffering a secret.

I lived this way for the next few years. Always fearful, and thinking anxiety was going to do me in any minute. Fortunately, after almost two years of being out of college, I was able to gather enough strength to get back into school. I aspired to be an elementary teacher. I love working with kids. It’s always felt like it was what I was meant to do. But deep inside I had this overwhelming fear that I couldn’t do it. I thought, “If I’m a teacher, that means my job is public speaking, the thing I hate the most. I’ll have to talk to parents all the time, other teachers, administrators. I’ll be OBSERVED all the time. There is no way I can do it!” These fears tried to stop me so many times. To make matters worse, often times when I was sitting in class, I was still feeling panicky, nauseous and lightheaded. It was hard to get through a class anxiety-free. This made me doubt my abilities to be successful because I was afraid of feeling these symptoms while teaching, and not having a way of escape.

But as each semester passed, things got a little better. I finally told myself, “If I’m going to get sick or pass out, it’s going to happen regardless of where I am. I can’t control that. Even if I did, what is the worst thing that would happen?” Plus, I noticed, that after three or so years of feeling like my worst fears were going to happen to me any minute (passing out, throwing up in public, going crazy, etc.) none of them had ever, NOT ONE SINGLE TIME, happened. So, I started to call anxiety’s bluff. It began to seem highly unlikely that after four years of feeling this way, whatever symptom I was feeling in that moment was finally going to be “the one” to do me in.

Slowly, but surely, the more I went to class, the more I gave presentations, the more I taught kids, the more I was observed and had my teaching critiqued, the more I accepted feeling anxious, the less scary it was. I even gave a presentation in my health class ABOUT how to help students with social anxiety. One of my friends told me how confident I appeared, and this person has no idea I myself have had social anxiety. In that moment, it hit me. I am beating this. I feel better. I CAN do this. I CAN be a teacher. I WILL be a teacher. I went home and cried because I knew my purpose in that moment, and my dreams finally seemed achievable.

This past semester, I was in a classroom for five weeks straight and I absolutely loved it. I taught many lessons and each time it got easier. By my last day, I was actually looking forward to teaching, whereas I used to dread it so much. I used to spend hours upon hours preparing for a lesson, so I wouldn’t slip up and look stupid. But on my last day, I taught the whole class the entire day. And while exhausting, it was the best feeling ever. I, the girl who couldn’t talk in school, is now going to be the one leading the classroom. I cannot tell you how much of a miracle this is. If you had told me three or four years ago I would be a teacher, I would’ve laughed in your face. It wasn’t possible. I could never do it. But now, I am. I’m living out the seemingly impossible. And I have to give all the credit to God. He made the impossible, possible. He has helped me totally renew my mind. I am a forever changed person. It didn’t happen overnight. I’ve cried. I’ve wanted it all to end. I’ve almost given up. I’ve taken five steps forward and ten back in one day. I’ve hit rock bottom many times. But I wouldn’t trade any of it for what I have now. I don’t think how I used to. Even when I wasn’t experiencing severe anxiety, I always had negative thought patterns. I had no faith in myself, no belief I could accomplish anything worthwhile. Now, I have more dreams than I’ve ever had, and not only that, but I actually believe I’m going to accomplish them. I know I can.

If you’ve taken the time to read all of this, I can’t thank you enough. For so long I didn’t feel I was worthy of love. I didn’t feel worthy of speaking out, didn’t feel like I had anything worthwhile to say. I thought that if I was truly myself, nobody would like me or want to be in my life. Now, I realize other people’s opinions about me are none of my business, because I cannot change them. I have decided to be unapologetically myself, and whoever wants to leave can leave, and whoever wants to be in my life I welcome with open arms.

My message to those of you who are struggling with anxiety, depression, doubt, insecurity, and feeling lost, is to start over. Start today; where you are, with what you have. Do everything you can to renew your mind. And when you mess up, because you undoubtedly will from time to time, just breathe and keep going. It will take time. The fear will be screaming within you to stop, to stay, to do the “safe” thing. But you must keep going. Don’t necessarily fight the fear. Let the feelings come. The more you accept them, the quicker they will fade. I promise you, in contrary to what your mind is telling you, you aren’t going crazy and you aren’t going to die. (These were real thoughts I’ve had more times than I would like to admit.) Do what you love, unashamed. Be who you are. Cut out people, places, things, and thought patterns that do not lead to growth and positivity in your life. It isn’t being disloyal. It’s self-loving. There’s only one you in this world. You have something to offer, something to contribute, that no one else possibly can. What do you have to give? You can’t give it hiding out in fear. Don’t settle for what is familiar and safe.  It’s time to let the fear go, and live the life you have always dreamed of. It is possible, and I am here to help in any way I can. Know that I am going through this too; we are in this together. Please feel free to share this post with others, or if you have something on your mind, leave a comment below or message me privately! I would love to hear from you! Stay strong ❤