Described by most as a shy and reserved little girl, I kept to myself because I was overly conscious of what people thought about me. I was, in a sense, a perfectionist. My emotional sensitivities attracted hurt and offense in heavy doses. Growing up with the mindset that appearance is everything, my mom made sure that I dressed my butt off in school. Needless to say, jealousy ensued from that. My classmates would tease me for my plump lips and small frame. I didn’t allow it to break me, but while I may have seemed tough as nails on the outside from the ridicule, it damaged me emotionally. It caused me to believe that perfection is the way, and that anything less just didn’t cut it.
The woman I am today is different from the little girl I was, but I’m still an introvert. Maintaining a social life isn’t easy for me. I’m the girl who cancels often on social outings. I enjoy my own company more so than the company of others out of insecurity of my social awkardness. Making friends is a piece of cake, but I rarely put in the effort to keep my relationships afloat.
I remember the day I self-diagnosed myself with social anxiety. Drained by an influx of social gatherings the week before, I took a sick day from work to recoup my energy. Thoughts of frustration rushed through my head as I reflected on the inconsistencies of my friendships I blame myself for. Wondering why God created me this way, I spent that day researching signs of social anxiety. It was at no surprise that they aligned with my personality traits. I thought that by identifying with the symptoms, I had cracked the code. The dots began to connect even more when I read up on the empathetic personality. That’s when I had my aha moment: I’m not mentally challenged, I’m an empath. Have you ever seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2? Well, I semi-relate to the character, Mantis. It just so happens that I experience social anxiety when surrounded by crowds, because I pick up on the energies around me (which affects my energy). I can feel what other people are feeling. Oftentimes, I wish that God didn’t give me this gift, but I’ve found strengths in my weaknesses.
Don’t Worry, Pray.
For every anxious feeling that tries to put a damper on my day when bombarded by energy suckers, I take it to God in prayer. There used to be a time when I people-pleased my way into other’s hearts and feared the tiniest critique. Now, I could care less about what people think about me. Worrying about what tomorrow will bring can be a difficult habit to break. Whether you’re anxious about your future, your financial situation, or something else that’s eating away at your happiness, I encourage you to cast all your cares on Him. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). He has the master plan for your life. The last thing He wants to do is set you up for failure.