Written by QCMHA Outreach Coordinator Nathan Gori
As a child, I thought my personality resembled a ball of rubber bands: extroverted, energetic and always bouncing from one social exchange to another. I was too confident for my own good and would even get in trouble for how outspoken I was. In elementary school, I won all my public speaking contests and would involve myself in many extracurricular activities as a chance to talk more (meet new people).
However, this all changed after leaving my hometown of 14 years and moving to a completely different continent. This once ball of rubber bands lost its elasticity and shape, transforming into a singular band, too afraid to stretch. Facing the fear of starting a new life in a new place, I developed anxiety that would stick with me from thereon. Attempting menial tasks that were once easy for me, became dauntingly scary. My whole body would quiver in fear at the thought of speaking publicly. One million thoughts raced through my mind before completing any task, at the fear of failing or the thousands of other possible negative outcomes that could destroy my life.
I was extremely confused! In my head, I was the same confident child, unafraid of anything, but my body would present a different story. I didn’t understand what was happening or why.
After years of coping with this mental struggle, I was presented with a seemingly large physical challenge. My Dad wanted me to climb one of the tallest mountains in the world. I immediately declined his offer. Since I lost my confidence, I believed that if I couldn’t even complete minuscule daily tasks, there was no way I could tackle this goliath of a feat. However, he persisted and convinced me (against my will hahaha) to do it with him. It ended up being the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the whole way, I barked in his ear reinforcing that fact. Yet, I was so happy I completed it. While to some it may seem like a very isolated event, however, this changed my whole perspective and helped me cope with my anxiety.
Achieving something that I once believed to be impossible allowed me to realize that all those simple, daily tasks were easy in comparison. For me, this was a way to reassure myself that I would be alright.
I continued down this path of finding comfort in my own discomfort. Moving again to another country seemed more manageable this time and with it a plethora of opportunities. In the past year, I wanted to complete something that I believed was absolutely impossible. This time, take on the Half Ironman. Every step of the way I wanted to quit. But I knew I had to prove to myself that I could do it. Finishing it was the most rewarding thing I've ever done and now only the sky's the limit.
Ironically, due to my innate fear of heights, Skydiving is my next challenge (Thanks Jordan). So maybe the sky isn’t the limit, but rather what’s limited is my confidence.
For some, organization and diary writing are excellent ways to manage anxiety. Everyones coping mechanisms differ. For me, taking huge unimaginable steps makes those little steps that much easier to walk.
Instead of stretching yourself too far that you break, stretch yourself enough that you become a new band, more adaptable to each new flex.