No, I'm Not Nervous — I'm Anxious. And Yes, There's a Difference.


This piece was written by Anonymousa Thought Catalog contributor.

I am not nervous. I am anxious. And there is a world of difference between the two.

I don’t get butterflies. My stomach drops to my feet until I feel like I’m going to throw up. I don’t have sweaty palms. My entire body temperature rises until it feels like I am immersed in a fire.

Nerves can drive you. Nerves can push you to perform better at your job or in life. How I wish my feelings could be chalked up to nerves.

Anxiety doesn’t drive you and it doesn’t push you. Anxiety freezes you until you physically cannot move. The simple, day-to-day tasks suddenly seem impossible. The dishes pile up in the sink and the laundry doesn’t get folded and you think, “Tomorrow will be a better day, I’ll do it tomorrow.” But with anxiety, it seems tomorrow is never a better day. Today’s worries may disappear but new ones will always come in their place.

Please, don’t tell me I’m just a nervous person. Nerves don’t leave you crying in your car for 20 minutes, barely able to catch your breath. Nerves don’t build a home in your brain and then refuse to leave. Nerves don’t steal your joy and rob you of enjoying the moments in life that are meant to be celebrated.

Nerves can be set aside. Nerves can succumb to distraction. Anxiety is so much more powerful and it doesn’t scare easily. Nerves will settle with a pep talk and a pat on the back. Anxiety doesn’t even know what it needs. Maybe a shoulder to cry on, maybe days at a time alone in bed.

To be nervous is to live through the feeling. To be anxious is to allow the feeling to control the way you live.

I am not nervous, I am anxious. And there is a world of difference.

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