You aren’t a coward for feeling anxious in front of a crowd. Or when making a phone call. Or when answering an email. Or when doing any other activity that your friends and family are able to do so easily, without breaking a sweat. You might be jealous of how naturally social interactions seem to come to everyone else, but you can’t treat yourself like a punching bag. You aren’t as cowardly as you feel. In fact, people with anxiety are some of the bravest humans out there.
You’re brave for agreeing to future plans when you have no idea what your anxiety is going to be like that day. When there’s no telling whether waking up and getting dressed will be simple that morning or whether it will feel like your throat is closing and your chest is on fire. You’re brave for knowing there’s a chance you’re going to struggle, but deciding that you aren’t going to let your anxiety get in the way of important opportunities. You’re brave for realizing you’re strong enough to endure. You’ve been through this before. You can go through it again. It isn’t going to be easy, but none of your life has been easy, so you know you have what it takes to push through.
You’re brave on the days when you show up with a racing pulse and shaking hands. When you keep going, even though your mind isn’t making it easy for you. And you’re brave on the days you stay in bed, too. On the days when you decide it would be bad for your mental health to leave the house and end up canceling plans even though it’s the last thing you want to do. Making that decision is never easy. There’s always a downside. Sure, staying home might lower your anxiety for a while, but you’ll have to deal with people who are disappointed that you bailed – and your own disappointment about missing out on something that could have been fun.
You’re brave for handling your anxiety in the moments it makes sense and the moments it has you confused. You’re brave for trusting you’re going to get through this even when you have swirling self-doubts. Most of all, you’re brave for admitting your struggles to others, for reaching out to a trusted friend or therapist for help. You’re brave for learning how to survive on your worst days and being able to thrive on your best days.
You’re brave, even when you don’t realize it – and most of the time, you won’t realize it. You’re accustomed to living with anxiety. This is normal for you. You aren’t sure exactly how other people feel on a daily basis because you’ve only been inside your body, your mind. You can’t compare your experience to anyone else’s, but trust that you are braver than you feel. Your anxiety can tell you a lot of lies – and one of the biggest is that you aren’t fun enough, smart enough, pretty enough, interesting enough. But you are doing so much better than you realize. You aren’t giving yourself nearly enough credit, considering what you deal with every single day.