Some days I find myself so overcome with emotion, it seems it would be easier if I didn’t feel anything. I try to make myself feel better, remembering that someone out there has it worse than I do. But it doesn’t always help. “I feel, therefore I am” is not necessarily uplifting. The world we live in does not discriminate when it comes to anxiety. We all feel it. Whether it’s to-do’s, never did’s, or should have done’s, we all feel as if we are inadequate, like we are competing against something immovable. All we are really doing is competing against what we think about ourselves and how others perceive our performance.
Think about it…When was the last time someone told you that you couldn’t do something and you actually believed them? When was the last time you thought negatively about something so much that you mentally quit before you ever actually began? The truth is, no one in this world really knows what they’re doing. Some are just better at failing than others. There’s no instruction manual for this thing we call life. We can pretend that there are those out there who seem like they’re living perfectly, but in reality that person is only sharing what they want you to see. Sometimes, they’re struggling just as much as we are.
But why don’t we publicize the struggle? Is it because we’re afraid of a misguided perception from someone else as to who we really are? Instead of saying, “I feel, therefore I am”, what we should really be saying is “I fail, therefore I succeed.” The only reason anyone was ever successful was because they, or someone who came before them, failed and failed hard. The act of failing precedes success and it’s our attitude toward that failure that can dictate how we feel about ourselves and other people.
It would be very easy to sit here and say that my attitude towards my own situation is consistently positive and free of anxieties. This would also be lying. Every day I look into my son’s eyes, I feel blessed. I’m blessed that he’s here and that I’m his dad. I also feel worry. I’m worried that at any given time something may happen. I’m worried if I’m adequately doing what I need to do to be the father he needs me to be at a given time. I’m worried if I’m the rock my wife needs as much as she is mine. I’m worried if I’m taking the path God wants me to take, or if I’m straying off-course. I worry, at times, if I’m giving up. I get angry at situations when I shouldn’t and take things out on people I shouldn’t. This thing I’m feeling…it’s not going to change; it’s always going to be there. It’s immoveable. I accept that. It’s also okay. It’s okay because, without these anxieties, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I wouldn’t be human.
When anxieties and general negativity begin to get unbearable, you can go one of two ways. You can sulk in the negativity, thus causing more anxieties and negativity, or you can be thankful, accept them, and let go. Acceptance and gratitude for anxieties isn’t indicative of giving up. Giving up and letting go are two very different things. Be thankful because, without failure, there couldn’t be success. Without success, there couldn’t be good. And this world can definitely use more good.
At any given moment of anxiety, consider how you’re being shaped as a person. If there’s a remote possibility that a temporary struggle could be permanently shaping your character, harness it. Consider what good could come out of your situation. Perhaps your struggle is necessary to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Perhaps you struggle now, so someone else doesn’t have to later. Whatever the reason, be thankful. Search for growth and gratitude will reciprocate.
I challenge you all. Social media is oversaturated these days by imperfect people pretending to live perfectly. This lack of transparency and sincerity is disingenuous and the world doesn’t need any more of it. Instead of pretending that we are humans who don’t fail, we need to accept the fact that we all fail and strive to help others succeed. Your challenge is to share something that gives you anxiety. It doesn’t necessarily need to be public, but it can be. It can also be a casual conversation with a confidant. Then, consider how your anxiety shaped your character and how your newfound character can be used to help others. I promise you…you will be grateful you did and may genuinely help someone who is struggling.