By: Janna Adams
“You are the most insecure girl I’ve ever met.”
I had a person say this to me, not because I am insecure, but because I am prone to worry, question things, see all sides of situations, and analyze thoughts and feelings. Not because I'm insecure, but because I'm anxious. I’m hesitant to say that I have anxiety, because I haven’t been officially diagnosed. But I know what it’s like to avoid obvious social situations because you don’t want to have to make awkward small talk. I know what it’s like to not sleep at all during a night because you can’t stop thinking about the outcome of something happening in your life. I know what it’s like to feel clingy, overly sensitive, emotional, and unwanted when someone chooses to ignore your feelings, and not being able to shake that you’re never going to let it go. I know what it’s like to overthink something so much that you’re crying alone in your bedroom and wondering when it will all stop, just so you can feel relief from this unknown. I know what it feels like to be let down over and over again because you care so much about other people’s feelings that you freely offer yours to people who aren’t careful with them. I know what it’s like to be empathetic to the point of exhaustion. I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t get out of your own head. I know what it’s like to be called irrational, illogical, helpless, and silly. I know what it’s like to have a feeling about something that you can’t push past. I know what it’s like to be anxious.
But I am not insecure in who I am.
Ask me what I know about myself and I could write you a book. I know that I go to great lengths to know myself—I dive into personality tests, think deeply about my emotions and opinions, take note of what makes me angry and what makes me intrigued, document what exhausts me and what energizes me. I know that I’m bad at trying new things. I know that I can be stubborn, especially if you try to spite me. I know that I’m prone to solitude, but when I make myself participate socially I have a good time. I know that I can’t stand the taste of whiskey. I know that I’m cynical and sarcastic and quick-witted. I know that I rely heavily on myself and that I don’t like to rely on others, even when I need to. I know that I don’t like doing things that I’m not good at, and I know that I need to be more open to them anyway. I know that I am careful with people. I know that I understand the thoughts and feelings of others on a deeper level. I know that I can feel tension and I hate it. I know that I can open myself up to someone almost ridiculously fast. I know that I am trusting, but I am also very suspicious. I know that I am aware of my surroundings. I know that sometimes I let my emotions control my actions, and I’m working on that. I know that I am honest. I know that I am loving. I know that I am accepting and supportive. I know that I look for the best in people, but I see the worst, too. I know that I am complicated. I know that I am capable of withstanding waves of emotional turmoil. I know that I have the best friends and family imaginable. I know that I am lucky. I know that I am genuine.
I know that my anxiety makes me vulnerable—so vulnerable that I can’t not be honest about myself. I know this is a risk. I let people see me for who I am and I don’t put walls up. I don’t sugarcoat my issues. I don’t hide how I feel. I don’t keep things from affecting me—I embrace what affects me because I can’t keep myself from feeling the truth. It is who I am.
Anxiety is not insecurity. Anxiety is not a reason for you to call someone annoying. Anxiety is not an excuse for you to walk away. Anxiety is not synonymous with crazy.
Anxiety is a lot to deal with—the person dealing with it will tell you that. And they’ll understand that it’s a lot to deal with for you, too. Because people who are prone to anxiety are careful. They are careful with people. They are careful with feelings. They are careful in life. And they don’t need you to try to fix them, they just need you to understand.
Being anxious can make you think a lot of things about yourself. It can cause doubt and pressure and overwhelming emotion. But people with anxiety are more than likely the people who know themselves the best, because they have to. They have been analyzing their thoughts and emotions since they can remember, and they have a lot of experience with knowing themselves. If you ask someone with anxiety who they are, they will be able to tell you. They will explain their emotions in great detail, with great confidence.
If you love someone with anxiety, expect struggle. Expect feelings—a lot of feelings. Expect the need for reassurance. But don’t expect to be able to call them insecure and get away with it.