(Disclaimer: I will not hop on a soap box about anything I have not experienced personally.)
Merriam-Webster says anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.
That's a mouth full.
I say anxiety is a really annoying, intrusive, and inconvenient son of a gun.
I was diagnosed with severe anxiety my freshman year of college and now that I understand the actual feeling of anxiety, I can confidently say I have struggled with it for over half of my life.
Let me put this into perspective. Remember when your elementary school teacher would say it was time to popcorn read and your stomach immediately dropped because you knew you were about to be randomly chosen to read to the class? Or when you knew the order that everyone would read in so you would read ahead and calculate what section you would have to read and you would practice until it was your turn and then you didn't notice it was your turn because you were trying to perfect it? Oh! and what about when you wrote a REALLY good essay and the teacher pulled yours up (anonymously) to show the class how to write and you turned red because you thought "oh no, everyone knows this is mine. is everyone staring at me? why is my face so hot?" How about the first day of middle school when you had to find all your classes without looking lost because you didn't want anyone to ask if you needed help? You know that basketball game that you got there early for and sat in your car until your friend got there because you didn't want to walk in alone in fear that all eyes would turn to you? What about the time you were the first person done with your test because you studied your butt off and knew all of the material but you refused to be the first to turn in your test because then everyone would look at you so you pretend to check your answers for 10 minutes until someone finally turns theirs in and you feel like you can get up now because they are all looking at the guy in front of you?
I don't know if there are any "grammar nazis" reading, but I would like to clarify that the usage of run-on sentences in the previous paragraph was absolutely intentional. A metaphor, if you will. Living with anxiety is living with run-on thoughts, but like there is no period at the end of the sentence because the sentence isn't ending anytime soon. Being anxious is not being nervous. If I had one PENNY (a penny!!!) for every time I have heard someone interchangeably use those two words, I would be almost as rich as Ellen DeGeneres. Okay, maybe not THAT rich but pretty dadgum close.
How do I explain to people that I'm not nervous? I'm actually very confident in my ability (in whatever I am doing at the time), but I am very anxious. Nervousness doesn't control your mind as long as anxiety. I guess that kind of makes sense. Anxiety is getting nervous and worked up a week before an event because you start thinking of every. single. possible. scenario that could go WRONG. Anxiety is giving a speech in class, knowing your topic like the back of your hand, but wanting to throw up thinking about everything leading up to the actual speech. What if my hair does something crazy? What if I choke? What if I trip over my chair on my way up there? What if I completely blank? What if they don't care and I am just wasting everyone's time? What if I say something wrong? What if everyone just wants me to stop talking?
Anxiety is a killer of confidence. Anxiety says, "oh, you feel confident? Yeah, we can't have that, give me 20 seconds." Anxiety tells you that everyone wants you to just stop talking, sit down and shut up, don't even think about speaking up for yourself, you're an idiot, your friends don't even like you. Anxiety says no matter what you do, you will never be enough.
Anxiety is WRONG y'all! Anxiety is a cowardly influence and has control only when you let it. No, anxiety cannot be completely destroyed like the Lego castle you built and just kicked over when it got too tall. However, you have the choice to be the boss or to be bossed. BE A BOSS. You defeat anxiety by going head-to-head with the things that give you the most trouble. Yes, it is HARD, but YOU are in control. GIVE that presentation you worked so hard on, and you know what? If you trip on the way up, LAUGH. If you choke, LAUGH. Take a deep breath and DO IT. We are all human and we all have little quirks. We've all embarrassed ourselves, but if you set the stage for how you are going to react you give others the same stage to react with you. If you laugh, they laugh.
Anxiety is a disorder, it is not necessarily curable. It is a solid pain in the backside, but you've got this! Anxiety does not define you, you define anxiety.
You are worth so much,
God loves you.