Anxiety comes from the fear of a future that may not even exist. This is what my psychologist tells me as we work through the exercises of my cognitive-behavioral therapy. Currently, Dr. Kelly has me doing a gratefulness exercises to keep me in the present. Every night I write down three things that I was reminded of being grateful for during the past day.
My three items from yesterday?
- I am grateful for my independence.
- I am grateful for the many friends willing to fight for and defend me.
- I am grateful to have a sister always ready to help me out, no questions asked.
It’s strange, even for me, to read those three points in the same breath. However, independence doesn’t always mean doing every thing on your own all the time. There is something so valuable that comes with learning your own boundaries. There is strength in knowing how far you can push yourself and respecting those limits. To reach your full potential, you need other people to inspire you, to push you, to pick you up when you fall.
I know it’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when I was SO boarded up. I kept everything inside, intent on proving that I didn’t need anyone else. In reality, I didn’t know myself and was crumbing silently under pressure that nobody, but myself, was putting on. It wasn’t until I found a group of people that helped break my shell, that I was able to open up and become that person today that I am so proud of.
I look back on journal entries from uncertain years and come across one from summer 2017. I had just dropped out of college and was drifting hopelessly around my hometown. One night my friend and I drove out to our best friend’s house and we drank wine with her and her mom; the four of us sat in a circle listening to Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Bread. It was exactly what I needed, to be surrounded by these women that make me so happy. I may have been drunk, but I had such clarity that no matter what happened, as long as I had people like these and night like that, everything would be alright. I wrote, “life lead me here to experience this moment. pure movie magic in everyday life.” My anxieties for my uncertain future faded away and I credit that to my friends being there for me and putting me in the present.
I look back on nights like this and am so thankful for the space I was given to be myself. Time in the present with those closest to me, having honest conversations, making and sharing art; this is how I learned what is important to me. And here I am today, just as uncertain about the future. My support system gives me the strength I need to take risks and live unafraid. I am so thankful for every person in my life who I can call on if I’m in trouble. The people that constantly REMIND me I can call on them and push me to take chances, knowing it’s okay to fail because they’ll be there.
Healthy Reminder: There is strength in being willing to ask for help when you need it.