If there’s anything I know how to do, it’s being sneaky. I have learned my way around sneaking out of uncomfortable situations or avoiding them altogether. I’m one to at times bend the rules so that it fits inside my comfort zone. If you ever need to learn the art of making excuses and getting out things, then I’m your gal.
But yes, I do see the flaws in my skill, the faults of being a casual rebel. While I enjoy feeling that safety in avoiding what I know isn’t my ideal place to be, such as a loud, crowded room or an event that goes longer than planned, I know that by avoiding the situation altogether, I’m not doing myself any favors.
Now I’ll be the first to tell you, anxiety isn’t a phobia that you can keep exposing yourself to and necessarily “get over it.” Maybe for some people that works, but for others, that isn’t the case. It’s a chronic mental illness that constantly affects our lives. Yes, we can be more prepared for certain situations or use medication that soothes our worries, but we’ll still feel the same wave of tension and side effects, and it will still suck.
A common theme it seems for this week is getting outside of your comfort zone. To fully immerse yourself in life and all it brings and be willing to participate in the present moment. I think we can get too caught up in nagging thoughts focused upon the past and future so much that the present becomes much scarier than it has to be. Which turns into building something like staying a few extra minutes at a party too much.
Baby steps. My nature isn’t going to change overnight, nor do I expect to suddenly become more extroverted than what I know I am. I still need to have my time to recharge and be alone with my own thoughts. But sometimes, doing something you maybe weren’t planning on could be the little boost you need to keep seeking out opportunities for growth.
For example, I go back to last week at camp. Not only was I on a busy schedule that, after a summer of a pretty laid-back, make-as-you-go schedule, was difficult to jump head-first into, but I also was at a peak of just being me. Wanting to go out with my fellow team leads after our day’s duties were done, seeking out chances to just talk and socialize with others and be on my top performance at all times (since kids are harsh critics). But I reached a point halfway through the week where I was beyond drained. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and that surprised me when I had felt on a sort-of high before then.
Do I think antidepressants help with that? Definitely. I wouldn’t have made it without them. But I also think my ease with myself and willingness to be open and excited about life was the push I needed to make that week an amazing experience. And a couple of times, I honestly was tempted to just back out of social plans or sneak out of activities, but besides the obligation of being the adult in charge of a bunch of middle schoolers, I actually didn’t mind being there.
Heck, even after the several years as a camper myself, I never dared to be part of a funny skit or talent show act. I didn’t think I’d be capable or memorable enough to do that. But with the support of my other team leads (yes, having awesome people around is such a blessing in this growth process), we actually put together a silly skit that everyone ended up loving. Now I regret not embarking on these opportunities earlier, but I know now is the right time, and even more opportunities to push my set limits are just on the horizon.
Again, this definitely comes with time. With self-discovery and self-confidence in who you are. With being okay being that more reserved but quirky person on my team. With being okay making mistakes and taking charge when I needed to. With being truly honest with how I’m feeling and allowing others to see me as my most authentic self. The camp itself promotes these ideals for young people, but if it takes you a couple of years later to figure them out for yourself, that’s okay, too.
That fear of missing out? If you’re someone who likes leaving early or not attending in the first place, that’s bound to happen. And I still enjoy doing it. It can be the biggest reward to myself to leave something energy-draining early and just relax at home. With anything, it’s about balance. Sometimes draining yourself in order to make the most of life, to experience things that you cannot avoid forever.
You do you. Don’t feel guilty for who you are, and don’t sacrifice that for what you think you should be doing. But don’t hold yourself back from moments that you deep-down know you can handle. While it might be difficult, you can do it, and the potential rewards from doing so are the most memorable.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie