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When My Anxiety Makes Me Think I Cannot Be a Good Friend

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One of the most disheartening aspects of anxiety for me is how it impacts areas of my life I love. I wish I could decelerate its growth, but like an avalanche, my anxiety builds in size and intensity, touching every dimension of my life. Anxiety is a part of me and accompanies me in every step of my life’s journey.

A time when I tend to feel ashamed of my anxiety is when I’m trying to make friends. As I make a new friend, I wonder, will you want to spend time with me again? Will you continue to see value in our friendship? For friends whom I have known for a long time, my questions change into, will my anxiety ever make me a burden to you? Will I ever disappoint you or let you down, causing you to walk away? I also ask myself, why do I still become nervous in the company of my dear friends, for whom I greatly care and unconditionally love, as if it is the first time we are meeting again?

These questions troubled me because I worried they meant I doubted the strength of my friendships. How could I doubt my friendships when they contribute to my core? It is difficult for me to share this concern, because I don’t want my friends to think their meaning to my life is not enough. My friends hold a special place in my heart, and their encouragement, love and support mean more to me than I will ever be able to adequately express. It’s just my anxiety makes me feel I am not worthy of someone else’s love.

I finally voiced this concern to my counselor, and she reassured me I don’t doubt my friendships. She explained what I doubt is my own value within the context of my friendships. I question if I am good enough, if I can be a good friend even though I have anxiety.

I now realize the nerves I feel in the company of friends reflect I care. I believe in the value of my friendships and want them to be lasting. Life can be filled with uncertainties and unexpected changes, which is very unnerving for me. That is why I worry.

Yet, amidst my fears, you — my extraordinary friends — provide me with the reassurance I seek, reminding me you are constants in my life. Thank you for helping me to see I am good enough, that I am a good friend and anxiety doesn’t lessen my value. You show me I am more than my anxiety. I am so grateful you have stayed in my life; it is a true blessing to be a part of yours. I am also appreciative of your understanding. I may not always feel comfortable calling or video chatting, but I will make sure to stay in contact through text messages, emails, and/or handwritten letters. I may not always feel comfortable hanging out for too long or too far from my home — which is my comfort zone — but I will always value your company and our shared time together. I may not always feel comfortable verbalizing how I feel, but through my actions and writing I hope you can see how much I care about you. And even though life may be filled with unknowns, I am certain I will always be there for you.

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Thinkstock image by: Ingram Publishing

Originally published: May 1, 2017
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