I’m in English class and it’s time for me to go up and read a measly little paragraph in front of the class. Even though there are only 25 other people in the room, and some of them probably aren’t even paying any attention to what is going on, I feel as if I’m in a colossal amphitheater about to perform a ten minute Mozart composition for the queen of England. Everything has to be perfect, and I have practiced reading it in my head at least five times over. I walk up and start reading; and even though my eyes are on the words and I’m trying my hardest to focus on not stuttering in front of everyone and making a fool of myself, I can sense everyone's eyes watching my every move, maliciously waiting for me to make a mistake. I even have a partner standing right next to me, but still it feels as if my heart is going to beat right out of my chest and the spotlight is only on me, burning and stinging every part of my body.
Anxiety looks like my bitten off and uneven fingernails, and the inside of my left cheek. It sounds like the obnoxiously loud silence that overcomes my mind when the cashier at McDonald's asks me what I would like to eat, and I have forgotten my whole order in a matter of seconds even though I rehearsed it several times in my head seconds before I went up to the counter. It is my fixation on the commotion that is going on in the background; the heightened sounds of a kid screaming and crying, the whispers of people behind me talking about how slow the line is going, they’re making me think that everything about this place is a fast paced race that I am just unable to keep up with, even though I have been here a million times and know the twists and turns of the track.
Besides the annoying sound of me fidgeting with my pen in school or tapping my leg on the floor that the people around me probably hear and think is so annoying, anxiety is quite like a quiet suffering. My mind intensifying almost every situation, and making it feel like a crisis just to answer a simple text message. As everyone else in my house is peacefully asleep in the middle of the night, what’s going on in my head is anything but peaceful; it’s a constant wonder if I’m really good enough. I can’t help but to repeatedly ask myself, “does anyone really like me? Why can’t I just get myself together? Am I letting everybody down? Why did I say that to her earlier, what was I thinking?” Even though I am alone in my room with no sound except for a fan blowing, my heavy thoughts and questions engulf and trap me. What this feels like is similar to standing in the middle of a crowded school hallway with the noise of various people screaming, yelling, and talking all around me, but my feet won’t move and I am stuck where I’m standing as everyone is pushing past me and telling me to get out of the way. I’m trying with everything I’ve got just to tell them that it’s impossible for me to unstick my feet from this floor, but it’s as if I speak a whole different language, and nobody can understand what I’m saying.
I have been repeatedly told, “You are just a teenager, you don’t have any real stress to deal with, stop worrying.” I am always asked, “Why do you worry so much?”. The answer to that question is simply just the fact that I cannot stop. I cannot put this feeling down. To me, anxiety is inevitable, and that is why I carry it. Don’t you think that if I could put it down, I would?