Flawless adjustment to new situations has not historically been my most prized virtue. There are a few suspects as the cause of that, but whatever it may have been, the fear of the unknown caused severe anxiety in my daily life from a pretty young age. Fear had me flat out refusing to participate in new things and step outside the box, stunting the growth of my confidence and limiting my potential greatly. Looking back on it, I’m almost disappointed in my younger self, even though I managed it the best way I knew how.
In any situation, I wish I would have asked myself, What’s the worst that can happen?
However, in the midst of a panic or anxiety attack, you are rarely looking towards the future; your mindset is completely about survival. Having foresight during those times is almost impossible, especially when you’re still relatively young and coming into your own with very little life experience. When all is said and done though, simply the possibility of an anxiety attack was enough to stop me from putting myself outside the box. It’s always safer and easier in the comfort zone, where you know what to expect and when to expect it, and that was more than enough to keep me there.
By the time I was nearing my college graduation, I had slowly managed to break up the daily anxiety I had experienced in the past. Maybe it was because I had found a comfortable routine at school within the parameters of my class and daily life. Routine seemed to help, having a daily schedule and knowing what to expect.
As graduation grew near and I was looking for jobs, I realized that there aren’t a ton of opportunities in the field of photography that don’t rely on freelance work. It became clear that, in order to find some consistent income, I would have to put myself out there and apply for as many jobs as possible, whether they were related to my field or not.
The comfortable, relatively anxiety-free routine was about to be disrupted but this time, it was even more crucial that I remained focused and open to anything, instead of dreading the big picture of my undecided future. Ignoring the fear and uncertainty and instead focusing on finding a steady job became my ultimate goal.
Months after interviewing (and being rejected) for a job that didn’t apply to my degree, my employer contacted me for a job that did apply and I was hired. It was hard to believe that by forcing myself to consider a completely foreign situation could unknowingly be so rewarding but it was undeniable. It was a small step toward looking at life in a new way where pretty much anything can be an opportunity in disguise if you go about it the right way. Had I let fear have any time of day it wanted to, I would not have gotten that job. It showed me that if I needed or wanted something, opportunity certainly isn’t a polite guest, gracefully showing up to your house on time and ringing the; it won’t knock unless you invite it.
Anxiety is something I will always be challenged with at certain times in my life. There are times when I still struggle with new situations and failed. I will still be afraid of things that don’t make sense to be afraid of sometimes. Contrary to what I might have been afraid of when I was young, I haven’t died from fear or anxiety.
So really… what’s the worst that can happen?