What It’s Like Having Anxiety

My English teacher asked me recently to try to explain my anxiety to her, what is challenging, and what works well for me. My answer at the time was something along the lines of,  “I don’t know… it doesn’t really make sense to me either.” As I think back on that moment, I realize that if I internalize my anxiety and view it as a weakness, my teachers and friends can’t help me work through it.


Last spring on Artward Bound, I recited a poem during our first performance night that I had written. The poem was deeply personal to me, and I was really nervous before my group got up on stage. I believe the only thing that got me through my two minutes at the microphone was my group standing behind me. I’m not saying it was easy, but their hands on my shoulders kept me grounded and didn’t allow my anxiety to take over. When I was finished, my group bowed and I ran off the stage, out of the auditorium, and into the bathroom, where I threw up my dinner. One of the visiting artists came to join me and told me it was okay to struggle because, in the end, I had done it. Ultimately, I had recited my poem in front of everyone.


Anxiety isn’t something I can ever get rid of. Some days, I can give a presentation in Ecological Case Studies with excitement with little to no anxiety, and some days, simply reading an essay aloud in History or English makes me physically sick. Sometimes my stomach churns with absolutely no trigger and I have to leave class, get a drink of water, and gather myself.


Anxiety is a part of my life, but I can work through it. I refuse to let it define me. There will always be a way for me to work around it. Some things are harder for me to manage than others, but with effort and a little support from my friends and teachers, my anxiety will play a minimal role in my life.