I’ve spent years spent finding ways to avoid showing the world who I am. Why? Because like most people I’m scared…
I remember it like it was earlier today. My mother was dropping me off on my first day of kindergarten and I was a mess. We were standing in the school hallway just outside my to-be classroom and, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I was begging my mother not to leave me there.
That moment defined my experience of school moving forward. Throughout my schooling and adult life, I have been thrown challenges in ways I didn’t know I could handle. I’ve been beaten up, bullied, and became really sick to the point that I was losing weight and I was depressed for 4 years, just to name a few challenges.
My life was what seemed like a kick in the nuts soon after being kicked in the nuts. And you know what that led me to believe? It’s better to hide from the world.
The world is scary, it’s big and it can be intimidating. Especially when you feel as though whenever you make an attempt at doing something, you get a handwritten letter from the world saying “you better not, I’m just as scary as ever.”
All that encouraged me to do was hide. And I kept feeling like my life was shit. I struggled to look at myself and I got uncomfortable when people close to me would look at me because I felt like they could see through me – I was right. They saw something in me that I couldn’t and no amount of convincing from them would let me change my belief about how good hiding from the world was.
Then the almighty struck — anxiety. Anxiety pulled me apart. It stripped me down to my bare bones so I couldn’t hide anymore. Our intuition is constantly whispering the truth to us. When we pay attention for a split second and realise what it’s whispering is the opposite to the way we’re living, that’s when anxieties and fears kick in. That’s normal. Actually, it’s healthy.
It’s your body trying to communicate with you because you’re not listening to anything else. Our body communicates messages of guidance through pain and discomfort. Helping us reconnect with what we really want for ourselves. This happens even with the smaller, everyday stuff.
It was through my anxiety and panic attacks that I learned the importance of slowing down and getting back to basics. When you’re in panic mode, you can feel the blood drain from your pre-frontal cortex. This limits your ability to think rationally.
Whenever I’ve attempted to ‘think’ my way out of anxiety and panic it only really made it worse. The best thing to do is listen to your body first. Find security and breathe. This may be getting out into the open, into a park, curling into a ball on the couch, or hiding in the bathroom.
By doing this, you’re listening to your body’s wants. Naturally, this is going to calm you down so you can start thinking rationally again.
For years I believed that my body and my anxiety were getting in my way of living. As if it were preventing me from achieving what I wanted whenever I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I thought that every time I was experiencing some kind of anxiety that it was just causing me to lock myself up from the world and hide.
So whenever I did so, I judged myself. Having thoughts like “You’re such a coward. All you do is hide from the world. What kind of example are you setting for the people you’re helping?”
This is when the lessons started to pop in. I realised that by hiding away from the world, people around me would step up and take care of things so I could go and get my shit together. To me, that meant people cared about me and trusted that I could get through it. It gave them an opportunity to build their self-worth through doing things I would usually try to control.
Ultimately, it made them feel important. My anxiety was making people around me feel important and necessary. How cool is that!? For such a long time I felt my anxiety was a burden to the people around me.
I spend my days showing people how important they are and how necessary they are to the world and here I am doing the same thing even at these times of unravelling vulnerability. You’re doing the same.
Hiding away for whatever reason is not shameful. It’s not worth beating yourself up about. If you stop and look, you’re giving people around you the opportunity to feel valuable and worthy.
We’re not meant to play this game alone. We need help from others and more importantly, help is within reach, it’s just waiting for you to ask. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help, it doesn’t make you any less of a person. The greatest achievement in humanity were never achieved by one single person. They had help because they knew they couldn’t do it alone.
When you’re ready to step away and hide, ask for help. This was a big pill for me to swallow, but it’s been a valuable one.