How I Learned to Manage My Anxiety Through Words
Dealing with anxiety has always been a battle; I can't remember a time when I didn't struggle to maintain a cool composure. Before, it was school. Now, I suffer terribly at work. I keep it all to myself, because everyone says the same thing: “You worry too much. We're all humans.” I’ve accepted that not everyone will understand the way I feel and the turmoil I tumble through. Not everyone sees my sleepless nights or my trembling fingers. They don’t notice just how weak the smile is that’s plastered on my face throughout the day.
I have always considered myself an introvert. When I was about 9 years old, I represented my school in a spelling bee competition. I was tremendously excited...until I stepped onstage and saw the crowd, staring expectantly. Suffice to say, I didn’t make it past the second round and I was utterly disappointed.
In high school, I was nominated to represent my class in another spelling bee competition. Fear shot through my veins, circulating in my body like a poison. I was terrified, and my class watched me explode in tears. I knew the material, but I was intimidated by my competitors and afraid that I’d let my class down. I ended up doing fine somehow. Now when I look back on it, I don’t even recall what happened in the end; all I remember is that I made it through.
Two years later, I was chosen to represent my school at a regional reading competition. Being nominated by my class for the spelling bee was one thing, but being handpicked by my English teachers? That was a whole new level of anxiety. Let’s just say I froze to the point where I trembled, and my vision became extremely blurred. I still remember my teacher saying, “Miss Singh, don’t you wear glasses?”
I recall entering the event with other students from my school, none of whom I knew. I felt very small. When I heard my name blaring from the speakers, I was suddenly lifeless in my own body. I walked to the podium, my heartbeat louder than my footsteps. I was hyper aware of myself, my pulse springing alive and thumping across my body. I walked as if I was on the clouds. I was completely blanking out again.
When I arrived on the stage, my eyes met the crowd. I had no idea what to do. Nevertheless, I read—I read loudly and clearly, despite my cracking voice and trembling hands as I gripped the paper like my life depended on it. I’m proud to say I landed in second place that day and then my spirits lifted.
The thing is, this constant fear of not being good enough has hindered many successes. Many times I stood afar, wishing I could be better. Yet, I knew that this wasn’t my fault. It just happened.
Today, I still suffer from anxiety, though I’ve conquered it in bits and pieces. Over time, I found that I stopped panicking and falling into the depths of anxiety by doing what I love. And there's nothing I love more than going on nature walks, reading books, and writing. My writing helped me channel this pain, this helplessness, and this fear. Today I can say I successfully managed to write thousands of words and poems. I know I’m not a weak person—I’m just flawed, and that’s totally OK. Even if I don’t ever conquer my constant battle, I’ve learned ways to avoid feeding it.
By Privishti Singh, 19