I have bad anxiety, and one time when I was 11 I had a mini panic attack about dancing in front of a huge crowd. A City Year member had a list on her phone with all of the performances and I was second. I watched the first person go up on stage from behind the red curtain. She was singing a song and she had a beautiful voice. But when her voice stopped I started to worry and my heart started beating so fast and I felt like it could turn into a panic attack. I took a deep breath repeated to myself “just keep breathing” to calm myself down. All I heard was “Maddie, you’re up next.” I walked up the short stairs that felt very long, still taking deep breaths, but the voice in my head told me I had to just go for it. I took my last deep breath and went for it.
When I got on stage I saw all the faces in the audience watching me, including my friends, and I didn’t want them to watch me dance. I felt a panic attack coming. I know what one feels like, but this time it would be different. I had to face my anxiety. It was the boss of me for a while, but this time I was in charge.
I looked at their faces and began dancing. When I was dancing I forgot about my anxiety, yah! I thought in my head “you did it”. The music stopped and everybody clapped for me. I felt like I could do anything. I was so happy. My friend gave me a flower and I held it close to me. It is okay to have anxiety, but you can choose to let it boss you around or be brave and face your fears
When I was in first grade I got diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That means I’ve known for for eight years, but I have always wanted to get involved with something to get my mind off my anxiety.
When I turned 11, I found dancing around Christmas time made me happy. I used to watch “Dance Moms” all the time on YouTube for hours. That’s when I knew I wanted to dance for fun. My favorite style of dance is jazz. Two years ago, I begged my dad and mom to let me dance and guess what? They let me and that’s how this all started.
My sixth grade teacher asked me to join the school talent show. I said yes, and a couple weeks later City Year held auditions. They asked me what song I wanted and I said “Work From Home” by Fifth Harmony. I performed and they told me I was in the talent show and I told my mom when I got home. I had a big smile on my face and you could tell I was excited.
Fast forward three years, and 14-year-old me has learned to overcome my anxiety even though society told me I couldn’t be successful with it.
Society is wrong.
The world makes me feel like I can’t be myself because it puts pressure on me to be a perfect angel. But nobody is perfect. I don’t like to tell people I have anxiety, because every time I tell someone they look at me weird, like I’m not normal. People say rude stuff under their breath because they don’t know what it feels like to have panic attacks and anxiety. If you don’t understand something you should ask questions. Please don’t say I need help and treat me like I’m weird. Anxiety is fine, not weird.
Society needs to change the way they view people with anxiety and if you know someone who has anxiety don’t say they will be forever limited by it. Instead encourage them to be brave and face their anxiety. Sometimes people with anxiety need someone to talk with to make them feel comfortable. It’s nice to have someone to trust when you have a panic attack.
People always tell me I am not going to be successful, but that’s not true. I know how to deal with my anxiety and at the end of the day, I choose to be in charge. My anxiety makes me brave and this story proves my point.