You know that one episode of SpongeBob where he’s too afraid of getting an iron butt so he stays inside with his best friends penny, chip, and used napkin? That was my life in high school. I have always had severe anxiety, and in high school I was diagnosed with agoraphobia, the fear of leaving the safety of my home.
One day my therapist told me that I needed to challenge myself. He said that I needed to have one moment of bravery, one moment of yes, just to prove that I can do things. I ended up hearing about a youth group retreat happening that weekend. In one moment of complete terror, I signed up for a weekend full of new people in a place I had never been.
I immediately wanted to go home, to go back to my safe zone and never leave again. Then I heard someone quoting Inglorious Bastards. Anyone who was quoting a Tarantino movie at a church retreat was someone I needed to meet. If I made it this far, I could find some more bravery. So I talked to him. We ended up talking all weekend. Then for months after. He became my best friend, then my boyfriend. We traveled around the world where he asked me to marry him.
My husband is my clearest piece of evidence that proves the most important lesson I’ve learned so far: Anxiety is a liar. My anxiety tells me that I can’t talk to people or interact. My anxiety tells me that nobody is interested in my thoughts or ideas. In reality, my fears are my greatest strength. If I didn’t say yes to that retreat, I wouldn’t have met my husband. I wouldn’t have said yes to live in Australia. I wouldn’t have said yes to an internship in a communications position.
All of the things I fear challenge me to live my life to the fullest. Yes, the thought of being out in the world and risking getting an iron butt is terrifying, but I’d rather be out here than home with my best friends penny, chip, and used napkin.