Writing by Isa Denney Strother // Photograph by Del Santana
Thank you so much for teaching me not to talk to strangers. I’m sure it’s saved me from being kidnapped or raped or talked down to by some jerk in a suit, but I don’t need that anymore. Now I am a big kid, and I need to talk to people I don’t know in order to survive. Now I need my heart to slow down a bit as I smile at a would-be friend, or sit for my first job interview. These are the strangers that I need to get to know– why can’t you tell the difference between a creep and a new art instructor? I think you should lighten up, Anxiety.
Thank you for keeping me away from things like cliff faces and sharp inclines and driving with people who I don’t trust to drive well; why, though, do you also keep me from walking up a hill if it looks even a little steeper than the usual? Why do you keep me so far away from cliffs that I never get to see what’s at the bottom of the drop? Why do you make me shake and wonder, ‘Am I going to die?’ even in the passenger seat of the drivers I trust most? Anxiety, please, just let me grow up and learn from my mistakes. You cannot keep me safe from everything! Sometime, I’ll just have to trip and fall down a hill, or get a little too close to the edge and give myself a fright, but I’ll trust I’ll be alright.
Thank you for reminding me to wash my hands before I cook, or to keep my things clean, or to cook using the right amounts of the right foods, but not everything is do or die. Not everything will end in some awful disease. Not everything is the wrong way round if you do it backwards, and honestly you need to learn to live a little.
Thank you, Anxiety, for reminding me it’s not always the right thing to speak your mind to people, but you also remind me not to stand up for myself in case I offend someone. Anxiety, do you want me to follow what other people do just because I am too nervous to do what I want to do? You need to let me stand up for myself and turn people down before that gets me into trouble.
Now, I know that you don’t like coffee, but I do. And Anxiety, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but without coffee, I’m not a very good person, so it’d be great if you’d let that one slide as well.
I have a test at the end of every class. Do you really need to freak out every time? I mean sometimes, sure, maybe I’ll study better, but every time? That’s a little excessive! It doesn’t matter if I pass or fail one or two of the hundreds of comprehension multiple course quizzes this week.
Anxiety, basically, what I’m saying is that you’re overbearing and you need to back off. Our friendship is getting seriously strained, you know? I think we need a break; and by the way, it’s definitely you, not me.
Well, technically, it’s me, but that’s only because you are me…you know what I mean!