My Crippling Anxiety That I Thought Would Doom My Future

I used to have crippling, perpetual anxiety. My childhood was taken up mostly by such high rates of social anxiety that I could not eat in public. I did not even know what anxiety was: seven-year-old me would, with frustrated tears streaming down her face, try and figure out why severe waves of nausea, accompanied with high heart rates, would hit me each time I would sit at the cafeteria. She would wonder why she had to run to the bathroom in case she threw up, while all her friends could sit, laugh, and eat. When she could sit at the table, she would put on a forced smile, suppress nausea, and throw away her meal, whole. This inability to eat in public was accompanied by panic attacks, perpetual states of severe anxiety, and of course resulted in the inability to maintain a social life. Some days I literally could not function, for all those reasons combined.

This form of social anxiety lasted all the way into high school. Then it was replaced by the anxiety of being seen with greasy hair. And when I say greasy, I mean second day hair- simply shiny hair, if you will. However, I could not shake the idea that people would see me without freshly-washed, voluminous hair and think of me as dirty or unhygienic. I would wash my hair every day, even, and often, when it was not greasy whatsoever, in fear that it would become so during school. This was a genuine fear of mine. Because if it happened at school, I would have no way of washing it; I would be stuck. When I realized that overwashing hair was not the healthiest thing to do, I took to obsessively shaking talcum powder and spraying dry shampoo; another phase of mine. 

Most recently, I had a phase of needing to have my eyebrows and upper lip threaded. I started threading in around 6th grade, but the “obsession,” really took over the last bit of my high school, into my early university years. Overplucking (not related to obsessing but more to simply trying to give my brows an arch) led to bare spots that grow back sparsely and slowly. Noticing that bushy, natural eyebrows are in, I decided to grow mine out, and not thread for several weeks, and probably months. Initially, though, I thought that it would only take a month at tops- after all, I thread every other week, so what was another week or two? But, as my brows grew bushier, I noticed they were growing bushy in… only certain spots. Having uneven brows just made me feel not put together, and I was scared that people would notice and view me like that as well; the same mindset I had about my hair. 

During this process, however, I personally have grown a lot. It is not from me sitting myself down and explaining the pros and cons of dealing with uneven brows for a while for the end goal, it is not me constantly reminding and calming myself down. 

This personal growth just… happened. I just realized one day that I really do not care, it is not on my mind like my other anxieties indefinitely were. I can only assume that I grew. I do not know how, and I know you might be reading this article expecting some kind of roadmap or checklist. I know I was desperately in search for one when I was growing up. But I think it is the growth in my confidence, which is a cause of joining so many organizations and having responsibilities. 

Seeing yourself create, build, or add to a project or a bigger purpose is so empowering. My younger self, who would be in a state of crippling anxiety weeks before something like a simple field trip, is watching me single-handedly plan and execute events for organizations, be on executive boards, interview for jobs, along with so many other things that would have terrified me. I am so proud of myself. 

Currently, I am so proud of myself for walking around with my uneven, growing eyebrows without being nervous of the thoughts of everyone I encounter. This is a sign, a revelation that I made it out. Seven-year-old me would wonder about how I would function if I could not even eat in front of people. I was scared of my own future. Was I doomed? Would I grow out of it? Grow out of what though? Tiny me did not know what anxiety was, I just thought that was how I was, how I would always be. But wow, has she come a long way.

So, what is the point of this article? I did not really give any advice other than to join organizations, if that is practical and reasonable for you. Was it to discuss my brow growing journey? I am not really sure. I think it is to show anyone, at any age, who has doubts about their abilities or their futures, who is dealing with something seemingly unfixable, who is afraid of their future that things can and will change. If you can put in some effort, that is amazing. And if not, like me, then hold out. Things will get better. I promise. 

Good luck, collegiettes. I am so incredibly proud of how far you have come and how far you will go.