nasa map of the u.s.

The Anxiety of Worrying I'm Missing Out on Everything the World Has to Offer


I want to be the girl who worries about a chipped nail.

But I’m the girl who wouldn’t notice if her nails were falling off.

I’ve struggled with a rare dissociative and a severe anxiety disorder, characterized mostly by depersonalization, derealization, and panic attacks and, for most of my life, like many of us, have been searching for a cause.

But the weird thing is, there isn’t one.

I grew up the quiet girl with the book. Always reading. Always escaping into another story, fantasy. A way I could feel alive — reading about other people. Melting into stories.

Reading has had many benefits for me — doing well in school, landing a good job, making me extremely book smart (but because of my disorder, not very street smart). Whether being smart is a curse or a blessing I have yet to figure out.

In fact, I am the type of person who thinks about things until I exhaust them. I like to think that’s where the root of my anxiety lies. I think and think until everything seems unreal. How could it be real? What if it’s imagined? I think so much about how things exist that I struggle to live in the moment, in the now.

I worry so much about not living in the now that I rarely live in the present. I’m so worried about the future that I forget I’m alive.

From childhood I was captivated by the world itself. Its beauty. Everything it has. The endless opportunities and beautiful things to see. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to see everything. But I always feared, “What if something happens to me before I can be something. Be someone?”

I’ve been around the world in many ways: many doctors, many appointments, many medicines. I’ve been around the world in my own mind. But, unfortunately, my anxiety prevents me from actually going forward (or anywhere far) physically.

Back to the world. Back to dissociative. I smell a flower. I feel nothing. I look at a tree. I feel nothing. I feel my feet on the ground — no, I don’t. I often feel like I’m floating.

My biggest fear, the root of my anxiety, is never getting the opportunity to experience things fully.

The hardest part is, a brain disorder is invisible. People often say to me, “I never knew,” or “You look fine,” or they just think I’m a fair-weather friend.

Even to this day, I’m the strong girl. Sure, my family worries about me, but they know I will fall and get up again; I will lose and not be defeated.

This has become, again, a blessing and a curse.

After all, author George Martin said in his book “A Dance with Dragons”: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

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Photo by NASA, via Unsplash

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