"Your story is so unique and different, and not worthy of comparison."
It's been a while since I've been vulnerable and in depth with my personal life. I hardly ever write about stuff like this and I don't really like getting too personal (especially on the Internet), but sometimes I share what's going on in my mind because I want to help anyone else who may be struggling with the same thing. The last time I went into more detail and truth about my life was in last year's special post Finding Confidence in Fashion to celebrate my blog's two-year anniversary. Lately, there's been so much on my mind that I believe now is a good time to share a little bit so that maybe it can help you or someone you know who could benefit from this post.
I'm pretty sure most of you who read my blog or know me in real life are aware that I struggle with anxiety and OCD. It's not something I'm ashamed of having or admitting that I have. Sometimes; however, they make even the smallest situations more stressful than they should be, such as if I say something dumb in a social conversation or if I accidentally slightly hit a curb while driving. I tend to overthink way more than I should, which leaves me feeling overwhelmed quite often. I think it's safe to say I worry too much 😅
Throughout elementary and middle school was probably when my anxiety started developing, which I never knew about until I got to college eight years later. I was never one of the popular kids, which I didn't want to be. I found myself happy with a few friends and my always supportive family. I didn't need nor want to be known by everyone who I never hung out with or even talked to. However, there were times when I felt alone and all my other friends were having the time of their lives without me. I felt different compared to everyone else in my classes. I felt like a lot of other kids in my classes thought I had a weird personality just because I enjoyed playing video games and bursting out the most random inside jokes that only I found hilarious. Now looking back it's not that big of a deal. Elementary and middle school were weird times after all. However, it's hard with my anxiety because I have such a visually good memory. I remember almost every aspect of all the good times, as well as the not so good times.
High school and college were better experiences, but I still dealt with my anxiety frequently and felt alone with it at times. My college freshman year - when I was starting out at Malone University - I had a roommate who didn’t think I was very smart and often made fun of me for that, which is something that made me super insecure. I also had to put up with two guys within the first few days of college who were trying to hit on me and it made me feel very uncomfortable, yet I didn’t have a lot of friends to support me when it happened. While eventually I made more friends who I still stay in touch with and love like a family to this very day, I still felt lonely quite often with my anxiety and OCD. Though I make it a priority to go out and spend time with my friends, there were days when I didn’t even want to leave my dorm because I was too overwhelmed to be social and worried about judgement. Thankfully, I started to become more relaxed with myself after transferring to Kent State University two years later. Now I’m studying fashion merchandising at one of the biggest fashion schools in the nation, leading the Delight Ministries chapter at the University of Akron with amazing girls, and I’m also part of Kent State’s CHAARG chapter with more amazing girls. With having more friends that I could relate to and talk about anything with, I found it comforting to know that it's normal to experience anxiety. It helped mine somewhat decrease in an unexpected but great way. I believe God gave me the strength to let it all go.
This past summer; however, my anxiety started crawling back into my mind. It started back at the end of May, a few days after my twenty-second birthday. It was late at night and I was trying to fall asleep, but so many insecurities and embarrassing memories from my past were keeping me up. It got to the point where I felt myself on the verge of a big anxiety attack. It became so bad that I texted a group of my friends from Delight and asked them to pray for me because in that moment I couldn’t even handle my thoughts. Their support and love put me at ease, and I felt God's grace wash over me. But unfortunately, the anxiety didn't stop from there. I was hoping that the rest of my summer break would be a little more stress free, but I found myself dealing with my insecurities, anxiety and OCD more than I wanted to. I at times got into the unhealthy habit of comparing myself to other people, which is especially difficult with social media nowadays. I'd often see bloggers/influencers post aesthetically pleasing Instagram pictures/IG stories and also receive all these amazing collaborations with some of the biggest brands in the world. Lately, I've been seeing a lot of bloggers that I know well get to attend amazing events such as New York Fashion Week, which is something I've always dreamed about going to. While I was happy for them, I also felt envy and questioned myself if I wasn't doing enough or posting the right stuff in order to be the successful blogger/influencer that I wanted to be. At the end of the day, I’m left mentally exhausted from all the highlight reels and unnecessary competition at the end of the day. A lot of my friends and relatives have also lately been getting into traveling the world, graduating college, getting dream jobs, getting into relationships, getting engaged, getting married, having kids, and so much more. It's a weird combination of excitement yet frustration. I love seeing my favorite people have their dreams come true, yet I can’t help but ask myself why I’m not working as hard enough to make my dreams come true.
Thankfully, I have people who are my biggest supporters and I feel good opening up to about my mental health. Of course, I have Jesus who created me to be unique, genuine, and beautiful inside and out. My sister is my biggest cheerleader and always makes me feel better when talking to her. When she came to visit this summer, I was having a somewhat crappy weekend. She took me out for a quick drive, took me to an outdoor market to look at flowers, and kept telling me to name all the things I’m grateful for. To have my sister help me focus on the positives rather than the negatives is super beneficial, and I’m so grateful to be related to her. I also when on a recent retreat with my CHAARG group and we talked so much about mental health. Almost every girl shared their own story and explained how our mental health doesn’t define who we are; neither does social media, bullies, or toxic relationships. I’m overall so grateful for the people in my life, especially the women, who empower me and don’t make me feel alone. And I want to remind my loved ones and all of you reading this to feel confident and strong.
Here’s a self-love tip: stop saying things about yourself that you never say to a friend. You would never tell your bestie “you’re not pretty enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough”, and so on. In that case, why would it be okay to self-shame ourselves about every little detail? Well it ain’t! So be kind to yourself, love every little detail about you, and be grateful for the gifts and passions you’ve been blessed with. You ARE worthy of all the good things!
While I still have to cope with my anxiety and OCD, especially during a difficult college semester, I’m going to make it a priority to be more kind to myself. I suggest you do the same as well, whether you’re dealing with mental health or not. In fact, I think everyone should seek therapy no matter how good or bad your mentality is. Talking to my therapist has definitely helped decrease the level of stress in my head. You’re not wasting their time, therapists do their job not just for money but because they love helping people! And for you, therapy doesn’t have to even require talking to a professional. You can find many different ways to take care of yourself: read funny memes, exercise frequently, spend quality time with friends or family, read devotionals, etc. The point of the matter is do what makes you happy. Find the things in life that you are grateful for rather than the things that bring you down and make you feel less than! Like Zac Brown Band once quoted (or sang), “It’s funny how it’s the little things in life that mean the most.”
I hope you found this blog post inspiring and encouraging. I may have written too much or went too deep, but I wanted to write about my experience to help anyone facing similar obstacles. Plus, I think I’m more expressive and detailed when I write something. So if you found this helpful and inspiring, let me know in the comments and feel free to share your own story.
Have a beautiful day, and remember that you are enough. MORE than enough!
“Cast all your anxiety on Him; because He cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:7