“What is to give light must endure burning.” – Viktor E. Frankl
If you are looking for a light-hearted post about our recent move or random antics that I have recently gotten myself into, this isn’t that post. While I do hope to illustrate and hopefully entertain you in the near future on how awesome and adventurous Denver is. I firstly, feel compelled to write what you are about to read, should you continue to stay. Beware,
this is honest Ashley to the core, so don’t say you weren’t warned. It’s also long, so feel free to skim.
My assumption would be that upon first meeting me, you would think one or many of the following things: she is easy to talk to (I like to think I know a lot about a little), she talks a lot, she talks fast, she is pretty empathetic and compassionate, and possibly moderately funny (depends on the day, I guess). Upon further interaction, you may also start to realize that I am incredible Type A, very self-deprecating, a perfectionist, an emotion on sleeve wearer, and unwaveringly dependable, sometimes to a fault. However, behind all of those descriptions, you also find someone who struggles deeply with anxiety and worry!
That last sentence, is no small admittance for me. Somewhere in my invisible mental state, a massive wall just broke, and the honesty emojis in my brain are now dancing to Uptown Funk (my fav song, of course), in celebration. Not only have I come clean to myself that those words are a part of who I am, I admitted it to you. You see, I have spent just shy of 28 years trying to run from that short, but in my opinion, ugly description. In my world, being a relaxed, go with the flow, can let things just roll off because you’re a laid-back spirit is much more preferred to one where structure is revered, people pleasing is high, and constant contemplation is the norm.
While folks say that things get better with age, I find that my anxiety has only worsened as I have gotten older. What was once over-caring in regards to grades and guys, has fostered into a burden, where I can sometimes over-question how I came off in a conversation, the way I handled a situation, or how I am measuring up at work. And if this sounds like an easy problem to have, walk just a day in my shoes and you will see that constant worry over these things is both exhausting and debilitating.
For someone who loves and believes in Jesus, there are no coincidences. Everything that has happened in my life recently I feel has lead up this point of admitting my burden to bear and accepting it as a part of who I am. Several key things have helped ignite this long-overdue fire, biggest of which is moving to a new city, where I know no one and nothing is familiar. For an anxiety-driven person like myself, familiar and comfortable is coveted. Because for me there is a right way to do something and a wrong way. When it’s familiar, you are sure not to mess up. However, when that is removed and there is no longer anything to metaphorically hide behind, confrontation of your underlying issue looms pretty near.
But also this wonderful book, Carry on Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton, given to me by a wonderful friend has done wonders for helping me see that I am not alone in my whirling world of worry. In this humorous, yet brutally honest account of her past and present life Glennon documents both her struggles and random thoughts on life. And while, nothing I have read so far has been earth-shatering information that I have never heard of before, that’s not what she is after. She is sharing stories of her every day life – things you think, but don’t say out loud, or don’t even realize you need to hear.
It’s been a great eye-opener for me that life is messy and everyone is holey – with a God-sized hole. Struggles are real and they aren’t going away, but they can be dealt with- with God, family, and friends. She truly is the best friend, I have never met. She is so relatable – she gets me. I get her. Not feeling alone is huge when it comes to acceptance, and when I read this book it’s like I have a refuge. A life raft. Someone else is living my life, albeit with somewhat of a different struggle, but she is being honest and making it – so damn’t, so can I!
It hit me this morning in church that in the 6th grade I wanted to be Christina Aguilera – or more accurately I wanted to sing like her. So, I began to take singing lessons. It became pretty clear after awhile, even to my middle school self, that even though the lessons where helping me be someone who can stay on pitch, I was never going to be paid to sing. Similarly, I hate salad! Over the years, I have tried it numerous times and in various forms. And while, I can now successfully force one down, should the formal social situation call for it, I am never going to order one on free will alone. But I gave up a long time ago, trying to like this rabbit food creation.
Why is being born an anxious person any different? Just like I wasn’t given the singing or salad-liking gene, I was not given the laid-back, go with the flow gene either. If there was a switch I could turn to become a less anxious person, I would already be the most relaxed person you know because I have tried numerous times to find that knob. But the truth is there is not even a night-light in my world leading me to the laid-back section. It’s just not me. And… that’s okay.
It’s the people like me that are always on time to your birthday party, happy hour, or movie date. My personality type is also typically the first to help plan or organize an event or outing. Furthermore, we are always going to drop everything and come help you with something should you need us. And my family tells me that I am very honest, in a polite/friendly, you can’t hate me way, so I guess that’s a plus too. The world needs us, just as much as laid-back people.
So there. Honest post #1 done. Whew! Now that that’s done. I think I will go do some laundry. Seems fitting.
Until next time….