Midsummer.

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June 28, 2018

Sunburn on my skin like a stain. Noises buzzing my ears like bumbling bees. Thoughts running, running, running… gone.

I wish I was good in crowds. I wish I was good at being loud. I wish I was good at basic communication. I wish my face didn’t look like I hate everything. I wish I was bursting with fun ideas. I wish I had a laugh that lit up the room.

Somewhere across the parking lot, past the pavilion, a boy is flying a kite. Back in the building on the first floor someone is upset. On the jungle gym I am sitting, watching the world.

What are three things you are thankful for today?

I try to ask myself this question at least once a day, especially when the anxiety is rising and the heat on my face is persistent.

Number one: This job. This wonderful job that stretches me every day and brings me face to face with my Creator, reminding me that I am loved the way that I am. Reminding me that I’m here on this playground for a reason. Moments lost in worship where every child’s voice is singing. Devotional time that fixes my crooked spine each morning. That mid-day prayer time when our knees feel weak, but God always restores us.

Number two: The kids. The kids that are trying their best in every moment possible. The kids that love it when I tell them I’m happy to see them. The kids that love to sing and dance along to No Other Love. The kids that break me in one moment, but fix me in another.

Number three: Today, number three is reserved for The Struggle. I’m thankful for the struggle to get up in the mornings, because once I get to that building that exhaustion from the day before fades to the background. I’m thankful for the struggle to get the kids’ attention, because they’re telling me about video games, their favorite songs, and what they ate for dinner and it’s wonderful. I’m thankful for the struggle to speak, because sometimes my sentences are choppy and I use the wrong words, but they still get it — and every word is practice for the next. I’m thankful that my toenail fell off, providing rest and a fresh perspective that brought new struggles. I’m thankful for the struggle that makes me weak.

Next, Tell me what is true.

I am loved unconditionally by the One who created the Heavens. I am saved by the man who bled on the cross. This day is not going to last forever. This bad moment will be insignificant in an hour, maybe less. My feelings do not define me or the people around me. In my weakness, I am strong.

Sometimes the days are hard. Sometimes my brain doesn’t want to focus on the good. I’m learning to rest in His grace and know that He created me for a reason, gave me this job for a reason, and that I am His prized possession — even on the hard days when I feel like a speck of dirt among the mud. There is nothing stronger than the Father’s love.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

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Shoving Fear Out the Door

Shoving Fear Out the Door

March 30, 2018 // May 12, 2018

At the beginning of this year, I read “The Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes (Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and a few other TV shows) a book in which she tells the story of how saying “yes” to things she would rather say “no” to changed her life. Let me tell you, this book has had an impact on me since the day I read it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still completely terrified of the word “yes” – because yes means commitment, yes means “I will”. Yes is the one word that can strike fear into my heart the moment I hear it. It’s not a fun word for me to say.

I would like to share some of my favorite quotes from the book here before I jump in further:

“Saying no has gotten me here. Here sucks. Saying yes might be my way to someplace better. If not a way to someplace better, at least to someplace different. … Continuing to say no was not going to gt me anywhere at all. And standing still was no longer an option.” (30)

“I am not a naturally optimistic person. I’m too in my own head to be a constant source of cheer. I have to work at happy. Dark and twisty is where my brain likes to settle.” (120)

The point of this whole Year of Yes project is to say yes to things that scare me, that challenge me. So in order to YES to a problem, I have to find whatever it is inside the problem that challenges me or scares me or makes me jut freak out — and then I have to say yes to that thing. Which feels like counterintuitive insanity. … It’s not insanity. It’s just tough.” (178)

“Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than. When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it. … No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it.” (286)

And finally my favorite quote that hit me like a bag of bricks…

“If I don’t poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell.” (167)

Ouch.

I like my shell. It’s warm, it’s got good music, and most importantly it is only inhabited by me.

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Two weeks or so after I read this book, the talk of internships for the coming summer began to become a thing for the first time ever in my life. I had begun to search the internet when a particular opportunity was sent to me. I read it over and all I can really confirm is that Jesus moved my heart for the opportunity. Let me tell you, this is so far out of my shell it may as well be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. However, it’s something my heart has been desiring for a while now. It’s an incredible opportunity to not only work with kids who haven’t had it easy, but to teach kids about Jesus. And I’m certain Jesus will be teaching me every day.

I knew if I didn’t say yes to this opportunity, I was going to seriously regret it.

So I said yes – I jumped, and I can’t tell you how nervous I am for the summer to begin, but I also can’t explain to you the excitement that I feel. It’s going to be a brand new experience for me. This is me poking my head out of my shell. This is me putting one foot in front of the other.

When I think back to high school – even before high school, middle school, elementary school – I was always terrified of something. Most of the time that was people, what they would think, what they would say, and so I never stuck my head out of my shell. Anytime I tried, I was spooked and pulled it back in. You see, I spook easily. I probably always will, but that’s part of my challenge. You would think I would be used to it by now.

I like to think I’m fearless. I like to put on that persona when I’m actually feeling terrified down to my bones. I think too much (hey there dark and twisty), the root of my fear, allowing my thoughts to grow like thorns and take over. It’s been a slow descent down this path to fear, because I truly think there was a time when I would consider myself fearless. My brain wants and has, without me being actively aware of it, pinpointed the exact moment fear began to take over. However, I’ve been told that pinpointing doesn’t change or help anything. It’s where you are now that matters and how you’re going to grow from here.

I think the series of events that led me here have been small things, things that I didn’t realize were happening until I was faced with it all in a dark, quiet dorm room with nothing but my thoughts pestering me like bees. I spent a lot of time with myself then, getting angry at my past decisions, feeling guilty for things I didn’t even do, things I had zero control over. All of these things spawned fear that exists inside me in different ways, climbing beyond just those feelings happening to me again.

It’s time to move past fear. I’ve taken what I can from the past, but I’m ready to move on. Being afraid all of the time is exhausting.

Being at BG for one semester was exhausting. Starting at CSU was exhausting. If I’ve learned anything from these experiences, it’s that I can do the exhausting. I’ll make it, and I’ll find my way.

And, dear reader, if you need some encouragement today, let me tell you that you will make it, too. Whatever it is — whatever fear is trying to hold you back — there is rest, freedom, and love in Jesus, first and foremost. But if that isn’t your thing (though I highly recommend), then find what gives you freedom from your fear. Shove it out the door because it’s taking up way too much space in that beautiful brain of yours.

Let’s see what we can do when fear isn’t in the way. Let’s see what we can do when we let Jesus occupy that space instead. I promise to try. How about you?

Exodus 14:14: “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

The Reality of Being a Christian with Anxiety

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March 2, 2018

Every Monday and Wednesday morning at 8:17, the Park N Ride bus in Westlake pulls out and heads for downtown Cleveland. Every Monday and Wednesday, I am on that bus, earbuds in, more than likely blasting TWICE to drown out the jitters that creep in my stomach. It’s never easy to get on that bus, but I don’t complain, because I feel less anxiety getting on the bus than getting in my car to drive the 22 miles to Cleveland State.

I’m always afraid that I’m going to miss my stop. It’s the second to last stop on the route and there are other CSU students on the bus, so it’s incredibly unlikely that I will ever miss my stop. However, that’s anxiety for you. It’s hovering every minute, waiting for something to go wrong, no matter the day or time. If nothing goes wrong, then it creates something. If something does go wrong, then it’s choruses of “I told you so” dancing around my brain. You would think that by now I would have found a way to shut it down, but nothing works for long.

I turn to music. I turn to studying. I turn to YouTube. I turn to reading. I turn to daydreams. I turn to printing pages from Google Images and coloring them in my journal. Speaking of, I turn to journaling. Recently, I started watching Panda Cams at the Atlanta Zoo and the Smithsonian National Zoo in D.C. (I have a theory that pandas would give great hugs and make great service animals. You know, if they weren’t so big.)

Did you notice something that wasn’t on my list?

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On my list, I didn’t put that I turn to God. Because, honestly, that’s not my first instinct. Trust me, I do that, but it truly isn’t my first instinct. My first instinct is to turn away, to hide (fight v. flight). I have quite the habit of hiding.

This flight feeling or desire to hide has become such a numb feeling that I hardly even think about it anymore. I do what I have to do, and when I’m finally able to leave the triggering place, everything feels okay again.

I have had people say to me before, “Can’t you just pray the anxiety away and feel better?” “Can’t you just read scripture and feel better?”

Yes, I can pray and I can read scripture and find comfort in it. But no, it does not make me “better” and it does not fix what I’m feeling. Only leaving the situation makes me feel normal again. I do mix in a bit of Jesus with a pinch of coloring and a whole lot of good music and feel hopeful again, but it’s hard when my brain wants to shut down. The whole thing is a strange obstacle course that even now I’m having trouble fully describing.

* * *

The reality of being a Christian with anxiety is that it’s not easy. Some might think that because I believe in and love Jesus that that alone makes anything I’m feeling irrelevant or can instantly make those feelings go away. It doesn’t. It just doesn’t work like that.

My faith in Jesus does, however, give me hope that I will able to continue to challenge myself and grow to live a great life where anxiety doesn’t hold me back. I keep that in mind with every decision I make and every hope I have for the future. I know I won’t be able to do anything apart from Him, especially overcome this anxiety.

Someone recently told me that it’s good that I am challenging myself with big goals to achieve that anxiety wants to hold me back from. That statement changed the way I look at every day. I now look at every day as a challenge. Every day that I complete, that I conquer, and even days that I am the loser, is a step forward. And Jesus is dragging walking me through all of them.

* * *

I’ve been in this strange mindset since I finished the fall semester at BGSU. I have felt so broken since coming home from BGSU. Some days I feel like I’m watching myself go through the motions of the day, like a parallel universe Emily is experiencing things and I’m not. Going there really turned and twisted me all up and I’m still working on the untwisting. I have a feeling I’ll be working on it for a while. For some reason though, I think that I had to go to BGSU and get all twisted up. I learned a lot going there, and I’m learning a lot in this recovery stage.

I have a cake metaphor here for what I’ve learned (because who doesn’t love cake?):

At the beginning of Fall 2017, I thought I had the correct ingredients to make a great cake. So, I put the cake in the oven and turned the heat to 350 degrees. I waited patiently, or so I thought I had. But when it came out, it was flat, it was cracked, it was dry. It wasn’t the fluffy cake with perfectly golden edges that I expected. Looking back, I hadn’t taken the time to check my ingredients. I had too much pride and not enough love for myself. I had a less than adequate amount of focus on what I wanted instead of what I needed. Now I know: you have to take the time to check each ingredient – ensure it’s the correct one, the correct brand, the correct amount – or else your cake will be less than desirable.

I’m starting over. I’m entering the kitchen, albeit hesitantly, gathering my ingredients, and I’m slowly adding each one. I have great opportunities ahead of me. I have great people around me. And I have a great God who loves me endlessly. I’m confident in this cake and I’m confident that it will be everything I want it to be, a little of what I don’t want it to be, and so much more than I thought it could be.

Romans 5:3-5: More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

On Being Better

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December 29, 2017

It’s that time of year again. The time of year where everyone comes home from college and you receive those, “When do you go back? Let’s grab coffee!” texts. During those coffee dates you get to listen to the other person tell you about their semester: the grades, the new friendships, the wacky dining hall food, or the personal growth they experienced while imaginary knives were thrown at them from secret ninjas on all sides. And then you get to tell them (along other things, of course) how much you studied for this one particular class because it was the most difficult class EVER and you’re so glad the semester is over and to be in their company sipping a caramel macchiato.

I want to turn the tables a little bit.

Last year I posted a goodbye to 2016 where I told you all of the things I did and my top songs of the year along with some pictures. I remember thinking that I would do that for the next few years, more for me than for anyone else. But this year, I can’t do that.

When I think back on this year, I see one color: gray. It describes the entire year, from the first day until the last. There were some days when it was an eggshell white, but all whites lead to gray in my book. So I want to reflect with myself on this year. I want to be on both sides of the table at Starbucks with a hot caramel macchiato and an iced caramel macchiato (because they’re great both ways!). And I want to tell myself that everything that happened is okay, and that we are moving on from it.

Imagine: the beginning of the conversation. Greetings, some small talk, but let’s get right down to it. First, the highs…

I think if I could pick out one high point from this year, it would be one that was reoccurring throughout 2017. It was every time I got to be with my best friends. Every sleepover or shopping trip or binge-watching YouTube for hours on end. We changed a car battery! (Okay, Toni changed a car battery.) We watched some movie about cheese that I totally fell asleep during! We shopped until our feet hurt and went to a Korean restaurant for the first time! We did crafts with glitter and melted crayons! We wandered around Petitti Garden Center and JCPenney and the mall! These days are ones that tend to blur together, but what I will always remember is that I was with them and that I laughed until my stomach hurt.

And next, the lows…

The lowest point was realizing that I was pulling away from people and therefore relationships fell apart. I lost a great friendship because I was distant and fighting with myself so much that I shut down and was not willing to let that person in. I said a lot of mean things to people, a lot of ignorant statements when I felt like I was defending myself or something that I thought was important. I pushed some more people away, some family members this time. My mindset has been ‘Me vs. Everyone Else’.

I couldn’t talk about my feelings to anyone in a serious matter. It wasn’t until I was stuck with myself for hours on end in a tiny dorm room, too anxious to walk to a dining hall to eat that I realized I had probably hit a wall. It was a big brick wall that had no footholds and I had no ability, no tools to climb it. So I went home and this past month has been the worst and the best all combined into one.

In conclusion…

I’m starting over again at a new university and I couldn’t be more terrified. But I’m working on it. I’m taking steps to get my brain into a better place, and that’s what’s most important to me. I want to be better.

And that’s where I am.

And the one with the iced caramel macchiato says:

I think that’s a great place to be! Everything you experienced this year is worth remembering because it led to that mindset of being better. It’s good that you hit that wall. Why do you think God put that there? Look where you’re going… Everything’s okay the way it is.

And it is. Everything is okay.

The “new year, new me!” sayings are coming (brace yourselves). How many of us will say that but won’t actually stick to a “new me”? I’m not sure what a “new me” would look like for me anyhow…

Instead of “new year, new me” I’m saying “new year, new chance to be better“. The new year is a chance to get better, mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s a fresh set of days and months that I haven’t written on or scribbled on or wiped from my memory yet. It’s a time to not just say I’m new because the year is. I don’t want to be new, because 2017 was a whole big life lesson written on a huge sticky note and stuck to my forehead, with me no matter what I do. I want to carry it with pride (that I’m honestly going to be searching for) and a drive to not make the same mistakes that are written in red ink on the yellow note.

I don’t want to be new, I want to be me, but better. Not just in 2018, but beyond, in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and so on. There’s always room for improvement. Even if you think you’re at your best and nothing can take you down (I learned that the hard way). Sometimes your own mind is your worst enemy. It’s okay to be at war with yourself. Just remember what you learned after the battle. Remember that you can always be better.

When It Feels Like You’re Standing at the Edge of the World

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December 5, 2017

These past two months I thought every day about taking my blog off the internet. Since I pressed publish on that last post I kept thinking, “This is pointless. I have nothing to say.”

I didn’t tell anyone I was thinking about it. I didn’t tell anyone that I felt like I knew nothing about the world and had absolutely no merit for writing anything on here ever again. I thought maybe I should just start writing about how much I love k-pop or how cute elephants are. (I could write essays on those topics for DAYS.)

I keep feeling this desire for more; to write more, to explore more, to know more about everything. And then I just hit this wall. I don’t know where this wall comes from or what triggers it but I hit it and I feel like there is nothing more, like I’ve done everything  I am and ever will be capable of.

What do I do now? What do I do when suddenly my plan has faltered and my brain is in shambles?

From eighth grade until the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I have been utterly terrified of time. I used to think that as each day came, it would hold some sort of fresh hell waiting for me. I used to think that each minute was too long and when that minute was up, time would raise its big ugly hand and spiral me into a war zone of another hour. I’ve gotten better and realizing time is just a thing, and it’s okay that it keeps going. But…

Through all of high school, I was waiting and waiting and waiting for one day, one set of 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. I was waiting for graduation day, thinking that as soon as it came, things would be better. I would be better.

As most of you know, I struggled with a heck of a lot of anxiety all throughout high school. I took college classes online in order to get out of the building and away from the people. In my mind, high school was chaotic (read: a war zone) and it certainly wasn’t anything like the movies make it look. They made it look good, a place where you are excited to go, a place where you make all of the friends in the world. Or maybe my expectations were just a tad too high.

“Things” aka my anxiety/crazy brain did not get better the day after graduation (and they certainly haven’t gotten better being away AT college). I think I expected an elf to show up at my door with a jar of gold, throw confetti, and say, “You’re free!! Nothing will ever make you anxious again!! You’re cured!!” Alas, this elf does not exist, and I am still as – if not more – anxious than I was in high school.

If I’m being honest, I think I’m still waiting for that day. Days keep passing, bringing me to BGSU and taking me away, and some days are okay, but most of them have been a vicious cycle of anxious mornings leading me to bed at 9pm. And through all of that, I’m still exactly the same. I still wake up wondering what I could possibly do that day to make my presence worthwhile. I still go to bed happy that the little voices in my brain will shut up for a few hours. I still wait for a day when I won’t only look forward to going to bed at 9pm, but instead go to sleep excited for a new day.

As for the new “everything will be better then” day my brain has chosen? College graduation. What a vicious cycle.

I’ve been pushing myself to get better, have been trying to find a life path that will make me feel like it’s worth getting up in the morning. Maybe I’ve found it, but then again, what if it doesn’t work? What if nothing works?

What if I’m writing this and you’re reading this and thinking I’m completely crazy? (You’re probably right.)

I feel like I’m standing at the edge of the world. Nothing has gone the way I thought it was going to. My view of myself and my choices has drastically changed since August. I thought I would graduate with a degree in English from BGSU. But now, I find myself looking Cleveland State University in the eye. I’m not mad or upset about this, but it’s frustrating when your plans don’t unfold. I feel as if I’ve been pushed to the edge, humbled, and asking what now?

I’ve decided to keep this blog going because while I certainly have nothing figured out, I keep thinking, “maybe somebody else feels this way, too”. And if that’s the case, then posting this is worth it, feeling like this and writing about it, is worth it. I’m standing at the edge of the world, and I’m hoping you’ll journey with me into 2018 ready for anything. Ready for our plans to be a little more than messed up and ready for whatever God has planned.

I can honestly say that I am as ready as I ever will be.

Pulling Back the Curtain

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October 7, 2017

When I walk across campus every single day, I am always struck with a thought that takes over my brain. It doesn’t matter if I’m heading to my 9:30am German language class or if I’m heading back to my room at 10:00pm from a Korean club meeting. I always have my earbuds in, have those good jams playing, and have this one thought:

Every single person you see has their own thing going on. They’ve got problems to deal with, papers to turn in, exams to take, best friends to tell about their day, family back home that they miss, dreams and goals to achieve, and their own thoughts running through their head. Sometimes I wonder who they’re texting or what song they’re listening to. But mostly I just get hit with the strange realization that we’re all human beings, and we’re all alive.

It’s silly, and if I think about it too much, I get frustrated. Of course we’re all alive, of course we all have thoughts, but it just seems so incredible to me when I walk across campus and this thought hits me. It makes me want to stop them and ask them about their day, their lives, their goals, why they chose BG of all places. I don’t, of course, because I can barely speak to people I’ve known for years, but there’s still that part that wishes I could.

I’ve been working on a novel idea that I’ve had for too many years now. It’s taken me a while to connect things up and get inside the heads of my characters, so recently I decided to just jump in and get to their cores. I wanted to see them raw and know everything I possibly could about them. It occurred to me then that we are all characters in this strange, strange world. Our personality shows in our taste in music. It shows in our strengths and weaknesses. It in our choice of major/minor. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s fascinating to think about these other people as we pass by each other. It makes me think about my own self and how being away at college has impacted me.

BG’s campus is a wonderful place. It’s full of wonderfully strange people who are just all over the board with their interests. I joined Korean club the second week I got to BG. In the first meeting, I was so thrilled to find out that these people were just as excited about Got7 as I was. Then I joined the Cross Cultural Conversation Connection and was so proud of myself for putting myself out there and making friends with people from other places. That club gives me LIFE, y’all. It’s amazing, and has only strengthened my desire to teach abroad, and given me the confidence that it’s worth doing. Little by little, I’ve been pulling back the curtain and letting myself be outwardly confident with my interests, instead of the very inward, closed-off shell I had adopted.

I do not love Bowling Green State University. I do not think the campus is the most beautiful and the weather certainly isn’t cloudless every day. I truly thought at one point that it mattered how many trees the campus had, and how new or architecturally beautiful the buildings were. But I’ve realized that it’s not about the beauty in the world, it’s the beauty in the people. That beauty is worth putting yourself out there for. Looking back, it was worth the anxiety I had before my first Cross Cultural Conversation Connection meeting. In that meeting, I met and spoke to people from China, Nigeria, Iran, Japan, and so many other places in the world. And y’all, that was incredible. It was so, so worth opening myself up to.

Going away to college is nothing like I expected it to be, and I’m so glad it’s not. I’ve been doing the best that I can at BG to get up every morning and not fear the people I’m going to pass on the sidewalk. I’ve been doing the best that I can to be nice to everyone that I meet. As an introvert who has never wanted much to do with people, I can say it’s exhausting for me. As an introvert who wants to do better, I can say it’s exhilarating for me. It’s opening up my world and changing the way I see the days before me. The day I moved in to my dorm BGSU my dad told me that my life would never be the same again. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the statement then, but I think about it almost every day.

True words have never been spoken.

Capital-R Reality

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September 2, 2017

Today’s weather just gives me that kind of gloomy feeling, you know? It’s raining, it’s chilly, it’s cloudy, and thus, I’ve been wearing pajamas all day long (I ain’t even mad). As per usual, I’ve spent the day thinking a lot: about my two weeks at BGSU (and what’s to come), about Christmas music, and about chicken paprikash. Only one of those three things is really important right now. I bet you’re thinking it’s the chicken paprikash, but alas, it’s not.

I got an email today saying I had been accepted into a club at BGSU that I’m really excited about! It was something I had found out about before classes started and had a great amount of interest in, so I was really hoping to join when I got to BG. However, as soon as I read that email, my stomach dropped and my good old demon-friend called anxiety snaked back into my veins.

For the past year I think I have been under the impression that I am cured, that I no longer carry that anxiety burden on my shoulders. I thought this because this past year didn’t challenge me or put me in any situation that caused anxiety. So when it started creeping back in towards the end of the summer, I was convinced I could beat it in this one-legged potato sack race. (Spoiler alert: I’m currently in last place.)

The thing about this anxiety is that it never goes away. It just presents itself differently depending on the situation I’m faced with. If I really wanted to, I could sit down and pinpoint every small appearance it made this past year when I was at LCCC. I think it’s more important that I pinpoint what’s causing it today, right this second, and what the biggest trigger is. Unfortunately, when I figured out my biggest trigger, I realized it is nothing that I can ever change.

My biggest trigger is people. Anything to do with people: meeting new people, talking to people, speaking in front of people, making eye contact with people, walking when people are within a few inches of me, walking when/where people can see me, standing in large crowds of people, sharing rooms with people, people entering a room that I’m in, etc. etc. To put it all together in one word for you: people.

It is a never ending list, my friends. *Social Anxiety takes a bow*

In my head, I thought it would be so exciting to join this club. (Disclaimer: I still think it will be, but it will take a while for me to get there.) I thought I could walk right into that room and own it. In my head, I thought things would be easy away at college, mostly because I hadn’t felt any strong anxiety this past year. Again, I thought I was “cured”. There’s a huge difference between what I thought joining clubs would be like in my head and what it actually is like.

I didn’t expect to be so anxious when I moved in to my dorm at BGSU. I thought I would be able to handle things and that nothing could touch me. Basically, I was blind and fearless. (Here’s the part where I can easily see God picking me up and dropping me back to capital-R Reality.) That’s not quite how it works.

I am anxious before every class, before every extra curricular activity that I attend, before every meal that I eat in the dining hall, while I walk down the hall of my dorm, while I’m walking across campus, and when I speak to my roommates/classmates/any other living human that isn’t my best friend. It’s a constant thing that I haven’t been able to kick. And it’s definitely not what I expected.

I feel pretty naive for thinking that things would go a different way. I experienced a very similar anxiety exactly three years ago during my junior year of high school. I guess I thought it was a high school thing and would go away as soon as I got out of that building. And it did, for a while – when I was sitting in a season of stagnation. I have quickly figured out that each new challenge (that brings more people) brings on a whole new wave of fear for me.

I’m definitely not sitting in a season of stagnation any longer.

Nobody told me going away to college would be easy. I’ve heard that it would be good for me, that it would expand my horizons, that it would change me. I think all of those things are true, and I can already see them happening. Anxiety is my hurdle. It’s the thing making me change in drastic ways and pushing me to always be better. I used to be angry at God and ask Him why He made me like this. While I do still ask Him that in my lowest moments, I feel as if I have a small sense of the answer, and for now, that’s enough for me to thank Him for this hurdle. It pushes me and challenges me and brings me face to face with God every single time. That is always enough.

I’m still figuring out the small details of this new anxiety, but I’ve decided to greet it as if it’s an old friend, not a big bully. I definitely won’t greet it with a smile most days, but I think I am doing the best that I can. I’m attending those extra curricular activities no matter how sweaty my hands are or how shaky my legs are. I’m attending them like I’ve done it a million times and it’s the easiest thing in the world. As of right now, prayer and a false sense of fearlessness are my solution. Fake it til you make it, right? 😉