Thoughts on anxiety

I need some time to think. One of the difficulties of learning so much
every day is the awareness that I have only half-learned things the
first time around. I need to process what I’ve learned. I need to
analyze and synthesize. I need to put the different pieces together
and see how they fit. I need to figure out what that means in terms of
new actions and new ways of understanding or doing things. I need to
think about what I have learned in order to ask more and better
questions.

What have I learned recently? What questions am I asking? As I still
myself and listen, I learn more about what has been troubling me
unnamed.

There is this constant tension between what I learn and what I feel I
should be learning. What kind of job am I supposed to have? How am I
supposed to live? What am I supposed to learn from my twenties?
Sometimes these questions are useful, such as when I am motivated to
learn more about personal finance. Other times, they fill me with
anxiety. “Are you living the best life you can?” the little voice in
my head asks. “You’re missing something,” it says, and weaves stories
of a million other ways I could be living. Other times, it expresses
disapproval. “What would strangers think of you?” “They’ll find out,
you know.”

I believe this to be true: If I listen to this small voice, I will
never be happy. That voice tempts me to think about other ways and
other times and other places, and it will never be quiet. If I allow
it to gain a stronger hold on my heart and mind, if the first tendrils
of anxiety that tickle the insides of my skin root themselves in my
thoughts, I will be lost.

Perhaps my task for now is to be conscious of that voice and to
examine it, to turn it over in my mouth. I will ask: Is this
really what I want, or something that I have been told to want? Can I
learn from the discomfort I feel in order to get ideas about
stretching my current life? Is this something I can ignore?

The secret of my happiness so far has been to believe that every
moment has happened in the best way possible, and that my future will
be similarly blessed. Anxiety can be a useful tool, but I will not let
it control me or undermine happiness.

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