• Kristina Cherep

Accepting And Embracing Her True Self

Lena is someone who I have gotten the chance to know because of my blog. We have never met before, but she reached out to my husband a month ago regarding my blog. Part of her message was this..."Also, wondering how she overcame the fear of being embarrassed or judged when she started to tell people and create her posts, that's something that I think about all the time." After she messaged my husband, I messaged her back the next day and we have been keeping in touch ever since. She felt this way a month ago and here she is today overcoming her fear of being embarrassed or judged. Words cannot even explain how proud I am of her. What she has written is her truth. Please read her story and give her your full support because she is SO strong and brave for sharing this with you all.

"I am at a crosswalk and see the girl next to me almost bouncing with a huge smile on her face. Immediately this strikes me as weird, why could she be so happy? As I think about the various reasons it hits me that I used to walk around smiling all the time. I used to get complimented on it too. I know things have been different, but I've become aware that my face probably looks strained and uptight right now. I am in a hurry to get to class on time, to get to my seat even though class doesn’t start for at least 10 minutes and I’m only a couple minutes away. I’m aware that I’ve always been in a rush to get to important things on time, but now it seems that just going to class or going to the grocery store makes me feel hurried and impatient. I used to joke that I was anxious about traveling and that was why I was always uptight about leaving early, but it was never a negative thing in my mind. That’s just how I was and I was okay with it.

Now that a therapist has told me that I have anxiety, it doesn’t feel alright. Now that I have recognized the extent to which my ‘problems’ affect me, I don’t feel normal. I don’t feel confident in who I am and I used to question why I was like this. Why couldn’t I just be happy like the normal girls around me? Why did I get so upset about such little things every couple minutes? Why couldn’t I just enjoy going to a party with friends without spending the night before trying to plan out every detail so that if something went wrong I’d be prepared? Why couldn’t I adjust to a simple change in plans without experiencing a crazy mood swing?

I’ll tell you why.

I have anxiety. I have depression. And I’ve only told my boyfriend and parents about everything that’s been happening because I am/was embarrassed about who I am right now. I am still trying to get to a point where I fully accept this part of me again and be able to tell people who I trust without fear of judgment. Still trying to get to a point where I can look in the mirror and be happy with the person who looks back at me. So this is how I will start. By exposing everything to social media I will force myself to have no secrets. If everything is already out there, then what more can I be embarrassed about when I talk to people about it? I’ve already found others through social media that I’ve never even met in person, who are going through the same things as me with their own stories.

I have multiple components to my anxiety that link with my depression. For those of you who are reading this & know me, please don’t look at me differently. I smile to hide this part of me, but as I embrace it I just ask that you treat me the same as everyone else. I am not damaged and I am finally learning to accept that fact myself.

So this is me:

I am not confident and when I look at my friends or people that I see, I compare myself and focus on what they have that I don’t. I can’t handle change. I can’t handle not being in control of my emotions. I am vulnerable.

Sometimes I feel like I am not enough for people or that everyone around me is judging me. I feel nervous sending texts to a group chat because I can’t tell if people think I’m funny or annoying. If people don’t respond that immediately means that I did something wrong (in my brain). If people cancel plans with me or invite me last minute, that is my fault for not being memorable or good enough for people to want to hang out with me. I seek approval from others. I even feel like I am walking on ice sometimes. I base my confidence in the moment off of others’ reactions around me.

I am not comfortable telling other people about my problems or my pains because I think that I am annoying people. I try to smile and hide it as much as possible. I think that other people are better than me sometimes, even though they have problems of their own and by telling them about what’s happening I make myself seem even less.

I want to hang out with people but I get so anxious about getting homework done that I have to isolate myself sometimes. Whether the reason be to actually get my work done or to hide my panic attacks, it varies. If I can’t understand what a teacher or TA is trying to tell me, my brain shuts down and I am immediately disappointed in myself. I can’t even keep doing my homework if it doesn’t make sense because my panic attack takes over and suddenly I’m wearing negativity goggles/can’t think rationally.

If I was not around I used to assume that people were just talking negatively about me. I used to try to be around my friends as much as possible just to make sure they still liked me and would remember me. I even got to the point where one time in my sleep I told my friend that everyone around me was talking about me and asked for help.

I feel more comfortable around strangers than I do around my friends because they know nothing about me. I’ll likely never see them again so it doesn’t matter how I act around them.

I trust my friends and love them, but I am always worried that something will happen to cause me to be alone. I think of hypothetical arguments or bad situations that aren’t even likely to happen, just so that I can be prepared to handle it. Or I’ll focus on past events which leads me to have a negative view of events occurring around me, even if the event is really just a common misunderstanding. I can’t be alone because I’ll get jealous of the people who are capable of going out to have fun and then I contemplate on all the negative things in my life.

I compulsively plan. I plan out when to eat, when to work on specific assignments, when to sleep, when I can run errands, etc. I try to plan out my whole life so that I can feel comfortable. When I will work certain jobs, when I will buy a house, when I will start my PA program, etc. And then I stress about when I can get things done. Numbers on a clock are not just numbers to me anymore; they are continuous deadlines that I make for myself. I make myself as busy as possible so that I don’t have time to be alone. I overwhelm myself so that I don’t have time to be idle, because I feel like I have to be productive at all times. I make lists every day of everything I need to do, and then I don’t even look at them. The lists just calm me down and help me focus when I get panicked.

I’m sure there’s a million things that I am forgetting, but in a nutshell this is what is going on inside my brain while I try to complete my daily activities. This is me and in this moment I am okay with my flaws. Tomorrow I will find something new to freak out about, but by telling you I can lift this weight of secrecy off of my shoulders. I can focus on ways to get better instead of ways to hide, so thank you. Thank you for reading this and for indirectly helping me improve myself."