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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