I feel like I’ve always been pretty transparent especially since my father’s passing…. to a point. I’m about to be extremely vulnerable and share some things not for pitty, that’s for damn sure, but more so that people can understand that you never truly know what people are struggling with. I had someone tell me the other day that they love following my instagram because my life always seems so glamorous, I’m always doing something fun. “Seems” is the key word. We all seem to be this person, but of course most of the time only the top 10% of our lives get shared. Crazy right? We are all comparing 100% of our lives to someone’s top 10%. You’ll never live up to that. I definitely struggle with comparison from time to time but that’s a whole different rabbit hole I could go down. For now I want to talk about my struggles with social anxiety.
I have anxiety in general but my social anxiety has been debilitating at times. It has consumed my life so much that I have missed out on opportunities, avoided most everything I am invited to, and have felt extremely isolated and lonely at times. I’ve worked REALLY hard, like you have no idea how hard I have worked to manage something that once completely controlled my life. To an outsider you would never guess. I mean heck my job means that I have to work with people, and very close to them, and it’s typically large parties of people. A job where I literally used to turn down work because it made me nauseous to just think about having to put on my game face and white knuckle through another day. Ive always loved being included but I’ve never actually liked the thought of participating. I would typically say thank you for the invite but I’m busy. By busy I would sit at home wishing I could be out doing certain things like bible studies, hanging out with friends, makeup jobs, family gatherings, weddings, etc. but the mere thought of trying to muster up the confidence and strength to actually go made me want to puke.
To the outside world I seem outgoing, always at this or that doing something fun, working a lot, and above all completely comfortable with people and groups of people. Believe it or not people mistake me for an extrovert a lot of the time. I went back and forth with whether to even bring this up. I by no means want to sound like I’m complaining because I have an amazing life, and amazing supportive family and friend group, and I thank God everyday for where I am today. But I also don’t think it’s fair to post all these fun things like lunch dates with friends, going out of town for weddings and events, all of the makeup jobs between bridal parties, the news station, pageant stuff, being involved with the cycling studio, having my daughter in these fun extra curriculars, etc. etc. without stating that there is SO much more to the picture. The wedding I was at last weekend, I left after dinner to go to my room because I had way too much human interaction and I really really needed to recharge and i stayed in my room the majority of the weekend. I have not been to most of my daughter’s music classes because when she started I was terrified to go and meet new people so I signed her up for a day I knew my mother in law had her so she wouldn’t have to miss out, and I wouldn’t have to face my demons. I could go on and on and on but the point is, it may look one way to everyone else but you certainly are not getting 100% of the story.
Over the past few months I’ve worked extremely hard to find ways to manage this anxiety, acquire tools to help me deal with this face on, and have pushed myself more than i ever thought possible. I work so very hard “behind the scenes” that it can be exhausting at times but I made a decision that I would NOT let this control my life. I will NO longer miss out on life because of fear. Has it and will it still be tough?! You bet. There is no quick fix. With all of the recent deaths and talk about mental illness, it is important to realize that people are fighting battles everyday that you have no clue about!! You are fighting battles. Give yourself GRACE. Let’s stop the comparison (something I definitely have to work on). I’m hoping by being a voice, advocating for transparency, mental health awareness/education, and accepting the way God designed me as not damaged goods but in HIS image that I can somehow even just reach one person. That one person won’t feel like they are alone in their struggles, fears, anxieties, whatever it may be. Your struggles DO NOT DEFINE YOU. You are worth fighting for and your purpose is so much bigger than you may ever be able to comprehend.