Observations & meditations on modern life
Anxiety and Butterflies
One day, your anxious butterfly that you sometimes feel could turn into a child’s magic wand, just like that.
(TW: discussion of engaging with anxiety internally and externally, but not in much depth)
For each person’s anxiety there is a different cause, different reasons, different feelings, different repercussions, and different coping mechanisms. Ultimately, we’re all different and our differences make us who we are and that is something I will always find extremely important. But empathy also goes a long way: being self aware and aware and aware of others really has a huge impact on the world around us.
Someone’s joy can be another person’s anxiety trigger. Someone’s dream could be another person’s nightmare. Being able to recognise that in yourself in others can be quite a grounding piece of knowledge. I know that I get anxious over things that others sometimes say and do, and they have absolutely no idea that it’s made me anxious. Yes, in some instances it’s good to be able to tell someone and if they can help, great. In other instances, it is important to recognise that other people are just living their lives and it is a matter of looking inwards to find out why their words or behaviour has affected us so much.
There is a line; there is a balance to it all, and different circumstances will always call for different courses of action. Being able to distinguish between these two situations could be just one small step towards feeling a little less on edge about engaging with the people-orientated anxiety in our lives. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we do have a huge impact on every person that we meet, and how we negotiate those encounters is important. So when we get anxious or upset, I find it useful to think about whether my feelings to warrant a conversation with someone and an attempt at changing on the outside, or whether my feelings need me to look inwards and figure out why it is that I have been upset by something that seems so “normal” and inconsequential. Clearly, it wasn’t inconsequential to me, so I need to know why.
It is not the responsibility of others to make our anxiety go away. It is not our responsibility to make the anxiety of others go away. But in my books, we all definitely have a responsibility towards some degree of kindness. Kindness does not mean being walked all over or putting others before yourself at every given opportunity. Nor does it mean compromising on honesty. Honesty and kindness is possible – not all honesty has to be “brutal”. If someone does find something brutal and you know about it, tailor it. Be sensitive to it. Let them work through it in their own time because they will be able to, but surrounding that person in triggers and hard-edged honesty isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. And if you’re on the other end of this: if you feel like the world is too harsh and is moving too quickly, know that you can always find the softer places to slow down. It is entirely possible for everyone, regardless of your age, job, personality, triggers, feelings, emotions, likes, dislikes, opinions, knowledge or anything that you may feel defines you as different from the person sitting next to you.
Anxiety doesn’t choose a specific kind of person. Everyone has the same worth here.