Anxiety is a tough thing to work through, on your own or through therapy. It can take months, years… even then it’s a constant work in progress.
As a teacher in today’s society, it can be even harder. Social media makes everything seem so perfect, so idealistic, and for so many… unattainable.
Perfect classrooms, teachers so put together, kids always on task working. Seeing these IG-worthy and Pinterest-perfect posts on social media doesn’t always help those of us with anxiety.
“The world hasn’t seen the best of you yet.”
And more recently, on my own and without sharing it on social media (because, ya know, there is life outside of social media), I took time off, time away, time to really soul search and find myself. The “myself” who is the me 99% of the time… the non-teacher me.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, having to”find yourself” again. It takes time. You have to think about your journey, mentally relive the hard times you went through, and forgive not only the people you feel have wronged you along the way, but also yourself.
Forgiving yourself. My goodness. That’s probably the hardest of it all.
If I am being honest, I have spent the last few months angry with myself. I remember one day in July, I woke up so angry that I let all of this happen to me (as if I had a choice), angry that God was testing me still, but mostly angry with myself for “getting anxiety” (like it was something I could just give back).
But it was also on this day that I decided I was finished being this person. I was exhausted from carrying around this anger and harvesting all of these emotions as if time was just going to sweep them under the rug for me.
It doesn’t work like that though.
For the last two years, my emotional health has been a whirlwind. Something I am 100% not used to or comfortable with, yet here I am. Sharing all of me with all of you, in hopes that this will help at least one person.
You see, the first blog post was for me. It was my outlet to get it out and move on. But this blog post, this one is for you. To help you. Help you move forward, help you forgive, help you become the person you are supposed to be… so you can be a better teacher, educator, mentor, wife, daughter, mom.
Wow, that sounds terribly cliche, but let’s just roll with it.
“I need you to realize that there are others like you in this world; …others who feel things intensely, and without hesitation, others who cannot contain all that they hold within the worlds of their mind because they have only ever known how to pour… how to give and give and give. I need you to know that you will find these people, and they will become your family.”
“You are always worth it. You are always enough.”
No matter your journey, with or without anxiety or any mental illness, you will more than likely have moments of feeling as though you aren’t enough. You aren’t doing enough. That’s not right, you’re doing it wrong. That’s what anxiety does.
And while anxiety looks and feels different to every person, it’s important to remember that your feelings are valid.
For someone who has never experienced anxiety, it’s hard to explain. But I’ll try. Anxiety, for me, is that little voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough or I can do better, or I should be doing XYZ… when my gut, deep down inside of my soul, is telling anxiety to be quiet. I guess you could say (for a relatable analogy) that it’s like an angel on one shoulder and the devil on another.
But that’s the thing. You are always enough. You are always worth it.
When anxiety starts to take hold, try these:
- Ask yourself: What bad qualities am I thinking about myself? Then stop what you are doing and write 5 good qualities about yourself. Don’t just think them, write them down. Write them down so you can see them, all of them in their glory… all of the things that you ARE.
- When speaking to yourself and being judgmental of yourself, add “…and it’s okay” to the end of the statement. “I am not good at ___, but that’s okay!” It changes your perspective by putting the positive spin at the end.
- Reach out to your best friend, your therapist, or someone who understands how you’re feeling. Talk about it, get it out. Allow yourself to feel how you feel, but also remember that you have to move on from this moment. Feel it and then be free.
- Breathe. Take long, slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes and take time to breathe. In through your nose, hold your breath, and then breathe out through your mouth. Just breathe.
- Stay off of social media. Take a break from it until your mind is where it’s supposed to be. (“Comparison is the thief of joy.”)
- Turn off notifications. Social media, text message… all of them. Turn them off. It can all wait, nothing is that immediate that it needs your response 3 seconds later.
- Ground yourself. Find 5 things you can see. 4 things you an touch. 3 things you can hear. 2 things you can smell. And 1 thing you can taste.
- Listen to your body, mentally and physically. Think: What is my body trying to tell me? What does my body need right now?
“At the end of the day, the only person you are obligated to make happy is yourself.”
Not everyone is going to understand your journey. I read a quote once that said something like, you can explain your journey in a thousand ways to one person, and they still won’t understand you. But you know what? That’s okay.
We all are made up differently and just like fingerprints, no two people are the same. Our chemical makeup is different, the way we were raised, where we live, our views, everything. And that’s okay. That’s what makes each and every person so very special.
That’s what makes you so very special.
You are here to live YOUR life. Live your life for YOU, not for anyone else and certainly not for anyone else’s approval. What someone thinks about you is none of your business.
You are whole yourself, without validation from anyone.
And most importantly, I want you to keep in mind that YOU MATTER.
Never apologize for doing what you need to do to survive.
“All we can do is remind ourselves that we are human. We make mistakes, we mess up, we hurt other people without realizing it. It’s time to move forward and make things right.”
Today is just one day. Your journey is just one part of your life. This season is not your whole life. One week, one month, one year… it was only that small section of your life. It does not define who you are as a person.
Every day is new. You get the opportunity to start fresh every single day you wake up. One bad moment or fraction in time does not mean you have a bad life or that you are a bad person.
Be gentle with yourself.
We all have bad days, bad moments, bad seasons. But the good thing about bad days… they don’t stay forever. Take it hour by hour, or minute by minute. Don’t let one bad day break you or make you feel like the rest of your life is going to be bad now too.
You are doing the best that you can and that’s enough.
“The past is behind you. It’s staying right where it’s always been. You can’t recreate it or mold it into something it was never meant to be. The future you’re traveling toward is so much more important than any past experience you’ve ever left behind.”
You won’t be able to move forward until you accept the past and move forward. It was one season in your life. One. You can mourn the past, you can mourn the life you thought you would live, you can mourn the burning of a bridge. But at some point, you need to let go.
You cannot carry the past into the future.
Moving forward takes a lot of courage and bravery. It means letting go of what happened. It means conceding responsibility. It means forgiveness.
Be at peace with it. Be at peace with yourself.
It won’t happen overnight. It may take you a few days, weeks, or even months to get where you want to be. But don’t give up. You will eventually be where you are meant to be.
And between us, most times where you end us is beyond where you want to be… most times where you end up is something greater.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”Shauna Niequist
The most important advice I can give to anyone going through a hard time is to take time for you.
I know, I know, I say this so often. But seriously…
Write down a list of things that you like to do. Things that are just for you. Reading a book, baking, going to the lake, running, praying… and write down a couple of things, not just one or two. Because now you’re going to go do those things.
You have time. You’re going to make time. You’re going to make time for life. YOUR life. You’re going to live.
Do things that you love. Be unapologetically who you are. Let yourself heal. Let yourself grow. Just be you.
One day you will wake up and you will feel the peace. You will feel the place where everything feels right. You will feel it in your thoughts, in your heart, in your soul.
That is your light at the end of the tunnel. This is your new beginning.
My hope for this blog post is that you find a reason to celebrate who you are. Who you are at this very moment, who you were in the past (because you won’t ever be that person again), and who you are becoming. I hope that you begin to see yourself for the wonderfully unique person that you are, and how special you are… just the way you are.
Because that’s your power, you know. No one in this world is you. No one in this world can be you, or do what you do better than you. THAT. That is your power. YOU are your power.
Don’t let anyone rush your healing. Don’t apologize for how you feel. Don’t pretend you’re okay when you’re not.
I promise you, one day you will wake up and it will all make sense. You will look back and be thankful for the storm. It will all be worth it.