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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USF chapter.

I don’t believe that pre-teen Camila had any worries about the future, or what might become of her – a trait I am now jealous of. She was blindsided when all of a sudden home wasn’t home anymore. When she was no longer in the place she grew up. When the anxiety overtook her and changed the core of who she was. 

Political troubles engulfed my home, and my parents took action. They made the decision to move to the United States. I was uprooted from my home of 13 years with no warning, and no way to go back.

I found myself in an unknown place, thrown into the deep end of American culture: high school. The knowledge I had gathered through my binge-watching of TV drama series had no use, for I didn’t have a secret stalker named “A” or vampires fawning over me. I was lost. It was at this moment that anxiety took its chance.

I would cry every night for what seemed like my entire freshman year. I would cling to what I knew best, studying. I would demand the best of myself. I always had a knack for being my biggest critic, but I always knew I tried my best and that was all I needed. I couldn’t say the same anymore. This time, nothing was enough. 

Every aspect of myself changed. I was no longer the affectionate, unfazed Camila. I would rethink every choice. I would wish for the clock to turn back, just this once. I became shy and introverted to the fullest extent. Everything I did, I could’ve done better, I said to myself.

“Nada se resuelve llorando” became a phrase I’d hear often. My parents did their best to understand, and they have since then, but their perspective was limited. The antiquated treatment of anxiety in Latino families was something that haunted them. I was faced with the challenge of putting my feelings and anxiety into words. To tell them that it felt as if walls were closing in on me, that the air was running away from me and I couldn’t catch up. That anxiety wasn’t something I could flip on and off like a switch. It would be something I’d have to carry with me for the rest of my life. 

And it truly is something I will never escape from. Even four years later, as I prepared to enter college, I found myself dealing with the same anxiety attacks. The wish that my brain chemistry worked like everyone else’s. The random need to cry. The sudden overstimulation that made me want to run away and hide.
It became important for me to understand that my anxiety is a part of me. This is not to say that, in the future, I will be confined by it. It simply means that I need to cope with it, come to terms with it, and wear it like a badge of honor.

My name’s Camila. I moved to the US from Nicaragua in 2018 and that is how I fell in love with writing. It allowed me to share those feelings of not belonging and feeling lost.