By Bella, 16
I have suffered from severe anxiety my entire life. It’s so severe I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot. It has definitely caused me to miss out on so many amazing opportunities. Even though I’m 16, I know that it’s had a major impact on me and many parts of my life could have been different.
Even so, I decided I will no longer let my anxiety get the best of me. The things I am afraid of make me so much more anxious than I should be, but I know that I should face my fears head on regardless.
A few months ago before the end of the school year, my friends had been talking about summer jobs they wanted to apply to and some that they had accepted. I sat there quietly. I felt my own fear overcoming me. I was so afraid of talking to others and I knew it would keep me from having the same exciting experience as they might. I wanted to be like them. I didn’t want to feel like I was trapped inside myself by my fears.
Later that night, I had decided that enough was enough. I started applying for summer jobs. I didn’t know how I would handle it, but I sure wasn’t going to let another opportunity pass me by again. My fear of talking to people may be really bad, but the fear of losing out and living a life I regret because I never do anything is so much worse.
Surprisingly, I got an offer really quickly. After just one day, I was given the opportunity to be a hostess at a local restaurant. There wasn’t any time to think about my decision to dive in and apply. Just getting over the initial fear of applying was enough to get me started. But being a hostess did make me feel really anxious. Being the first and last person everyone talks to was terrifying to me. I didn’t know how I would handle it.
On my first training day, I became so frightened that I went into the restroom and cried. I was so overwhelmed by everything about the new job. Keeping track of what I was supposed to say and do was already a lot, but adding in the anxiety of constantly meeting and greeting new people really made things hard. This pattern continued on for about two weeks. I would go to work and try my best, but get stressed out and hide away, crying, in the restroom for a while before going back out there to face everyone.
After my first few days being a hostess alone when the training period was over, I realized that I could handle it. There was never really anything to be afraid of even though I had felt so deeply scared. Interacting with people was new and different for me. I learned that people were nice for the most part. Even though some people are mean or rude, it’s not the end of the world. I know I used to think it would have been, but remembering that you can’t control everyone or their reactions makes handling these interactions easier. Not everyone on the earth is going to be nice and that’s okay. I can only control how I feel and react.
I learned that overcoming fears is something that everyone goes through at one point or another. Facing my fears taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. It was stressful and scary to make the decision to face my fears, but I was so happy to finally get this one out of the way. Now, I have more room to conquer other fears. I’m still scared, but I know that I can do it!
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