I believe we have two options in life.
You can take the hand you've been dealt. And by that, I mean playing the pawn. Living vicariously. Never questioning your path and just taking to it like the good little minion you are.
Or, you can challenge that hand. You can raise the stakes. You can endeavour to take the steering wheel and drive with purpose and passion towards your higher sense of self.
But it isn't easy. In fact, it's pretty terrifying.
And that's the challenge I'm facing.
For as long as I can remember, anxiety has sat very firmly in my life. Stubbornly on my shoulder it has stayed, spinning its web through every difficult decision, every change of pace and every new phase I have encountered. It's been there through break ups and break downs. It's wormed its way in even during the happiest of times. It's always ready to rear its ugly head.
Yet, this relationship that anxiety and I have?
Well, it's pretty misunderstood.
People see it as an excuse or a pitiful exaggeration of every day stress. They tell you to "just snap out of it." They remind you that "things aren't even that bad." Or maybe they suggest that you "try cheering up."
What they don't realise, is that anxiety is so much more than that. Anxiety is the creature that digs its claws in and drags you out of your comfort zone. Anxiety is panic attacks, paranoia, insomnia and crippling worry. Anxiety clouds your decisions. Anxiety leaves you feeling like the dirty product of a one night stand.
Anxiety is lack of control.
Now I'm ready to take back that control.
A few days ago, I suffered my worst anxiety attack yet. Over 10,000 miles away from home, the attack left me numb for days. But worse than that, it left me confused and humiliated.
Confused about the path I was taking. Humiliated that I was even considering leaving it.
And this is a path I have worked tirelessly to build. A path that will take me to places I could only ever dream of. A path of discovery, inspiration and happiness. A path I am proud to be on.
I will not leave that path just because anxiety wants to pull me back.
So as my mind began to clear and my body slipped back into a pace of normality, I made a decision. No longer would I contain myself within the barriers of this mental stigma. Never again would I give in to its wicked ways and allow my judgement to be plagued by its treacherous hand. I would not give it the power it so desperately craved.
Of course, this is not an overnight process. Anyone who suffers from anxiety will know that all too well... you cannot simply say "No!" and continue with your daily life.
What it will be, is a process of self reflection and kindness. It will be a period where I cut out the toxins and commit to a "positive vibes only" zone. Healthy eating, healthy living. No alcohol (because let's face it, when was alcohol ever a good idea for an anxious person?). Yoga, every single day. Pen to paper for as long as my hand can stand it. Reading and introspection. Mindfulness.
Because we need to take the first step. We need to kick-start the process to rid ourselves of this debilitating condition. We have to want to push it out of the driver's seat. We have to be the change we want to see in our life.
If we refuse to accept it, we can learn it live without it. If we show ourselves the greater things in life, we can lessen its destructive hold.
Do not be a pawn to your own life. Take control. Live your biggest, baddest self.