September 27th, 2020
One of my goals for 2020 was to conquer my anxiety.
Well, actually, this seems to be a goal every year and it’s something I’ve wanted to fix since I had my first panic attack when I was 16.
But to be honest, in 2020, I’ve made more progress on that goal than I thought I would.
If you were to put my anxiety at a level from 1-10, I’ve gone through most of life after college at about a 5 or a 6.
But this year, it’s been more like a 3.
I’m not sure what made this better, but I have a few theories:
- Not drinking
- Business is doing well
- COVID as a whole has made life / people more chill
I was pretty stoked that I was at a 3, but I also had a feeling that my anxiety was not “fixed”. I knew, deep down, that it was likely to come back again.
And last night, it happened. It finally came back and I realized that I’m not “fixed”.
I was sober and my business is having its best month and I worked out all week and I still had a panic attack. Not a horrible one but the worst in recent memory.
It goes to show, anxiety is not curable and it will come back at unpredictable times.
No matter what I do, I won’t be able to cure it.
There are no books on anxiety that will fix it. There are no pills that will fix it. There are no therapists that will fix it.
I’m not saying that I won’t do these things, but here’s one thing I’d like to change: to stop looking for a cure.
First step, acceptance ➜ Admitting to others when I’m feeling this way. Writing about it.
Next step, seeking help ➜ Remaining curious, trying and exploring solutions.
The solution ➜ Taking action on it every day.
I don’t think a therapist would cure things, but I do think that the act of finding and trying out a therapist and going regularly is a great solution, because it embodies the most important thing I can do: take action.
In that case, it would be the research about therapy, the searching for the therapist, the setting up the meeting, the nervously anticipating the first session, all of that…
Because that’s all getting out of the comfort zone.
A therapist is just an example, but the same goes for when I stopped drinking.
Being sober didn’t cure my anxiety, it was the process of learning how to live a sober life! It was all the new things I learned and discovered: like waking up without a hangover every day, or going to a wedding sober, or figuring out how to explain to people why I stopped drinking, or meeting and dating women completely sober, and so much more.
These were all new experiences I had to go through every day, and it was these experiences that were actually fixing my anxiety, even though I thought it was just from being sober.
Today, I can accept that I won’t cure my anxiety in 2020, or in 2025, or in 2090. I’ll stop looking for a cure. Instead, I’ll think about it and work on it every day, remaining curious and open and vulnerable.
Here’s my takeaway from all this: just keep doing things I’ve never done before.