When Weakness Becomes Strength: How My Anxiety Has Made Me a Better Person
January 24, 2020
I don’t remember the first time that I became aware of my anxiety, but I do remember the last. I was standing in the middle of a courtroom on a Wednesday night three months ago, presenting
I don’t remember the first time that I became aware of my anxiety, but I do remember the last. I was standing in the middle of a courtroom on a Wednesday night three months ago, presenting a closing argument to a teen jury. I felt good. I felt solid in my argument. I had been an attorney at my local teen court since December, and I had gotten to be good at it. I felt like I was in my element.
I still don’t know exactly why it happened, but I stumbled over a sentence and suddenly became aware of all the eyes on me. They were all judging me and I had just made a mistake. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry or throw up.I managed to hold it together until I had left the courtroom. As soon as I was out, I started to hyperventilate. I was having a panic attack. They had been a regular occurance for me since I was thirteen, and they got worse when I began my sophomore year.
Despite the fact that I had been having panic attacks regularly for two years, I had never had one in front of anyone until that night, and I had never told my parents that I was struggling. That night, I realized that my anxiety had spiralled out of my control. I needed help.
People sometimes characterize mental illness as a battle. I’d say that for me, it’s more like a war. Some battles I win; some I don’t. Despite the fact that it can be really hard, I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned. Anxiety has given me a unique perspective on relationships, life, and my goals.
My anxiety means I have a tendency to be nervous in front of large groups of people, a perfectionist, and overly sensitive. However, that’s only one side of the coin. My perfectionism has pushed me towards my goals and given me opportunities I never would have considered. I spent hours stressing over my midterms because I was convinced I would fail; however, the work I put in led to perfect scores on two tests. I’m overly sensitive. However, it’s given me the ability to be more perceptive, empathetic, and kind, because I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I do. I had severe anxiety talking in front of people that I had to work really hard to overcome-not only did I overcome it, but I learned to love it, so much that I coached middle school debate and decided to pursue a career as an attorney.
I’m not saying that dealing with a mental illness is easy. It’s not, but it is worth it. I have learned so much about myself that I never would have if not for my anxiety. It has taught me to be sympathetic to others. It has helped me to excel academically. In my attempt to control it, I discovered a talent I didn’t know I had. I’m not ashamed of my struggle. I’m proud of all it has helped me learn.