My day had already begun, but just as it was taking off a message from a friend let me know she was feeling anxious. She had intended to do something- or maybe avoided doing it, and thought it would cause someone else to worry. That someone was me by the way– I assured her it just wasn’t the case.
Anxious- for nothing.
Later a former student wandered into my office to share her thoughts with me. She very uncharacteristically started crying because she noticed something in herself that she felt was perhaps a flaw in her ability to do something she had been trusted to do. Concern for the limitations that flaw might place on her life was evident in her tears. Then she suddenly seemed to remember that although she had this task currently, it wasn’t something she really valued or wanted in her life beyond this temporary tasking- it only bothered her because it somehow marred a life otherwise marked by her free spirited motion and energy.
Anxious – for nothing.
Late tonight as I drove home, the truck suddenly started making an awful scraping noise. I was sure the engine had fallen out and I was dragging some important part under me. Or maybe one of the feral cats that inhabit the university campus had gotten into the engine to avoid the chill and I was mutilating it as I drove. I pulled over as soon as I could- opened the hood, saw nothing. Bent down to look at the bottom of the truck and found that I had somehow driven over a cardboard box that was stuck under there- it was being scraped along the road and it’s open end was acting as a microphone- shouting its presence there. I very easily removed it without even having to touch the ground.
Anxious- for nothing.
What’s the point? Anxiety is a real occurrence- it causes us to panic, to hide, to fear fear itself- but it’s a lie. Anxiety will lie to you – tell you you are powerless, alone, weak, useless, unnecessary, worthless, your efforts are wasted or worse that they are harmful, or any number of things that just do not align with reality or truth. It’s a lie that is easy to believe because it tries to tie itself to our hopes- to the purpose we hope we are living- and tell us to forget them because we aren’t enough. It attacks our identity by telling us not only are we not who we want to be, we aren’t even who we think we are right now, and we weren’t even who we thought we were in the past.
Anxiety is a liar. It is a thief- stealing truth from our hearts and minds. We are not made to be anxious, we are not made to panic, not made to doubt, not made to fear.
My favorite book to share with middle schoolers puts it something like this,
“The truth is, whether you know something or not doesn’t change what was.”
Truth is what is there even when we aren’t aware of it. We cannot change it, deny it, shape it, or move it.
Anxiety makes us think truth has moved without us knowing it, without our permission, without our control. Which embeds another lie- that truth depended on us in the first place- it doesn’t.
Yes, we all have our own reality- the set of daily circumstances we exist within. That personal reality may shift continuously- but our realities are not truth. Anxiety wants us to believe they are- and it teams up with pride to make us feel that we have the authority to tell other people what “our truth” is. And that pride teams up with angst and tells us we have the right to be angry at those who don’t share “our reality” that we’ve started to call truth. And soon we are passing our anxiety off as truth for others to partake of- inviting them to have the same doubts, fears, and worries that we do.
Don’t believe anxiety’s lies. Be confident that truth doesn’t change.
“If dinosaurs were blue, they were blue; if they were brown, they were brown whether anybody ever knows it for a fact or not.”
Weeks, S. (2004). So B. It. Scholastic: NewYork, NY. pg. 4.