Having an anxiety disorder is downright frustrating sometimes. You have so many things that you want to do, but sometimes, you’re at the mercy of your anxiety.
This has especially been the case in my own life. I was diagnosed with my anxiety disorder in my sophomore year of high school. After I was diagnosed, there were so many things that I was “supposed” to do because society said it was important for high schoolers to do: go to parties, go to football games, take all Advanced Placement courses, and date. Because of how bad my anxiety was, though, I wasn’t able to do a lot of these things.
When you have an anxiety disorder, it sometimes seems like you’re always the last to do everything. The last to get your driver’s license, the last to graduate college, the last to live on your own. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking for the person who always feels “left behind.” It can even make you feel like there’s something wrong with you.
I know how this feels because this is the path I walked for many years. In fact, there are still things that most of my friends have done, but I haven’t. For example, I’ll be the last of my friends to graduate college. I’ve never been to a nightclub before. Heck, I’ve never even finished an alcoholic drink before, despite being of age.
The hardest one of all, however, is that out of all of my friends, I’m one of the last people to begin dating. I’ve never had a boyfriend before. It’s really hard sometimes, especially when most of my friends are coupled up.
Slowly but surely, I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m going to have to do dating, and life, differently and more slowly than most people. Along the way, I’ve discovered the advantages of taking life at my own pace.
When I think about it, I haven’t been ready to date before now, and it would have been a disaster if I had tried to date in high school. I spent my freshmen year of high school just trying to adjust to high school. By the end of my sophomore year of high school, my anxiety was almost debilitating. I was an anxious, insecure mess, and I looked to everyone else for approval of what I said or did.
All of this would’ve made any relationship a disaster before it even started.
Looking back these past few years, I realized that by waiting, I’m loving myself the way I need to. Here’s how:
- First and foremost, I’ve had time to get myself happy and healthy. Not only do I deserve to be happy and healthy, my future husband and children deserve to have me happy and healthy.
- I’ve prioritized my relationship with God. In my experience, if your relationship with God isn’t in a good place, it will show in other areas of your life. God will lead me to the person who’s right for me, but I need to develop my relationship with Him first.
- I’m establishing my own identity. I know my likes and dislikes, as well as my values and standards. I’ve discovered many talents and interests as well, such as writing, speaking Spanish, and working with disadvantaged children.
- I’ve gotten some neat opportunities. Because I wasn’t clinging to a boyfriend in high school, I had more time to do the things I wanted to do. I’ve sung with one of the top children’s choruses in the United States. I’ve traveled all over the United States. I got my Girl Scout Gold Award. I got my blue belt in Karate. All of these opportunities have helped me grow in confidence, shape my values, and establish my own identity. Plus, they’ll make for interesting conversations with my future boyfriend/husband.
- I’ve volunteered with victims of domestic violence. Not only was this another neat opportunity, it taught me a lot about healthy relationships. I saw firsthand what can happen if you marry the wrong person. Now, I know the warning signs to watch out for, and I can spare myself the pain of an abusive relationship.
- I’ve had the chance to be just friends with guys. This has helped me to get a glimpse into how the male mind works. It’s also helped me to know what personalities mesh well with mine, as well as which don’t. I can keep myself from getting too invested in the wrong guy.
- I’ve had time to satisfy my own needs and desires. My dream is to get married, adopt children, and homeschool them. That being said, there are things I want to do before then because I know they will be harder to do once I have my own family, such as volunteer to teach a religious education class for children, become fluent in Spanish, write a book, and travel. I’ve been working on these goals, and they’ve made me happier and more fulfilled.
It can be so hard to wait for the right person to come along, especially if it feels like your anxiety is holding you back. It’s even harder when it seems like everyone else is coupled up except you. Your time will come, though. You need to make sure you’re happy and healthy first. Once that happens, you can focus on living a full life. Once you’re living a full life, the right person will come, often when you least expect it.
If you’re in a relationship, what advice would you give your younger self about relationships? If you’re not in a relationship, what’s the hardest thing about not being in a relationship? Leave your answers in the comments below!