Lately I've made some decisions that my friends have seen as "self-destructive." I understand why they think that, but I don't agree.
All I've been doing is saying "yes" a whole lot more.
I've always been a worrier. I grew up with awful social anxiety. I still have it pretty bad today, but to be honest, it's easier to cope with as an adult and a functioning member of society than it is when you're thrown into a classroom of strangers and told to go play. I also have general anxiety that developed with my depression -- a depression that I am now 100 percent over, but still feel the anxious effects of.
My anxiety and my worries led to a lot of "no," because I always cared more about the "what ifs" than the "what ares."
I always read blogs and articles about living in the present and only worrying about today and blah blah blah, but I'm a planner. I'm extremely type-A and a lot of my anxiety comes when plans are changed or there isn't a plan to begin with. I will plan things way in advance to make myself feel better about the direction my life is going in, but because of that, I've had quite a few empty days on my calendar, because the planner in me would say, "no, that's not a stable enough plan."
I said no to almost every opportunity I had to have a real relationship with a man and I even ignored some opportunities for new friendships. I said no to nights out with anyone other than my very close friends, I said no to dating, I even said no to going to church for a while.
Every opportunity that was presented to me got an immediate "no" because of my fears -- fears of what society might think, fears of what people in my life might think, fears of what I might think later on.
I wasn't happy. I told myself I was, but I wasn't. I wasn't truly happy until I let myself say yes.
Last year, I was offered a spot among a class of 30 to study in New York for a semester. It took me a solid month to decide whether or not I wanted to go and that should've been a no-brainer. But I stayed up late almost every night that month, making and remaking my pro/con list. The con side was basically a list of things that I was worrying about but shouldn't have been. Things like, "I'll be away from my friends for five months" and "I'll miss so many things."
I eventually said yes and it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
Thankfully, my friends (who I did not even come close to losing, by the way) filled me on everything and made my return from New York seamless. I was worried about nothing.
The success that came with my semester in New York completely changed my perspective on life. I'm saying "yes" to everything that's healthy and good now. I say yes to dates, yes to parties, yes to spontaneous road trips, yes to trying new things and I feel so grateful for all of it. I'm happier than I've ever been, all because I made the conscious decision to lock away my anxieties and learn to say "yes."
Don't get me wrong, anxiety is a mental illness that can't be pushed aside with a split second decision. It took me months -- years, really -- to get to a point where I was able to do that. However, the biggest step you can take in fighting an illness like depression or anxiety is to decide to fight it.
Decide to say "yes" more.