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Why I Don’t Want You to Know About My Anxiety

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These are the little ways that anxiety interferes with my life.

I am a man in graduate school with anxiety. You’d never know it if you met me; I’d never let on. If we met, I’d be open, gregarious, inquisitive and laughing. That’s my anxiety; that’s me trying to get you to like me because I’m afraid you won’t. It’s not really who I am, all the time anyway; just when I think I need to be.

My anxiety shows up in ways most people who know me don’t notice. They don’t notice because I’ve become so good at putting on a stoic appearance. When I’m quiet, I’m nervous; when I’m terse, I’m scared; when I’m vulnerable, I’m terrified. The safest way for me to be is stoic. No emotions, no apparent happiness or sadness.

My anxiety interferes with my day-to-day life. I’m nervous to take the light rail to class even though I know there’s nothing to be afraid of. I’m nervous to go to class even though I know nothing bad will happen.

As hard as I try to cope and as much as I wish it wasn’t there, it’s as much a part of me as my sinew, bones, and hair. They are all fundamental to who I am.

I’m learning my anxiety is a part of what makes me, me.

I don’t hate it for that. But I do wish flying was a little bit easier, I wish taking public transit was less stressful.

I’m an adult man with anxiety and you’d never know it and that’s the way I want it. Why? Because I, like many men, fear vulnerability is a weakness. I’d rather have an anxiety attack and no one know about it than let a classmate know and be vulnerable, worried about their opinion.

So what is it like to be a man with anxiety? It sucks, but thanks to people like Kevin Love, we can start opening the door, getting a foot in and start having conversations.

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Getty Images photo via SinanAyhan

Originally published: April 13, 2018
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