In the throes of my anxiety,
The depths of my people pleasing,
The canyon-like width of my “What-if’s;”
In the thread that holds them all together, making me desperate to know others’ thoughts toward me,
I’ve been taught to say, “Who cares?”
And keep moving forward.
But this dismissive attitude has never sat well with me.
Who I am – who God has designed me to be – is to care. It’s in my nature to.
So, what to do with this people pleasing? This striving? This fear that everyone in the world is looking at me, investigating my motives, inspecting my actions?
A few nights ago, I lay in a posture of prayer, listening to the sound of my breath, surrendering.
In recent weeks I have learned the most beautiful thing we can do is tell the truth.
So, the truth:
Saying “Who cares?”,
That declaration of dismissal,
Has never felt true to who I am.
And I need something else to keep me moving forward.
I asked God for a new phrase, a new declaration, some truth I could speak over myself when the thoughts and emotions are growing in intensity, in meanness, in tightness.
Yes, that sounds like me.
It’s persistence. It’s acknowledgement of the fear, of the anxiety, of the emotions, and the choice to move forward anyway.
“But what if they think I’m stupid?” —
“But what if I fail?” —
“But what if I am being too much?” —
I can fully acknowledge the fear, the persistence of thoughts,
Instead of simply disregarding them,
Blasting forward, pretending to be invincible,
Shielding myself from my own blessed sensitivity.
Now when my anxiety hijacks my empathy,
Turning my natural state of caringness,
My perception and compassion,
Into a Petri dish for fear,
I get to say,
Keep wondering what lies behind people’s eyes.
Keep feeding your curiosity of others’ emotions.
Keep paying attention.
Don’t let the fear rob you of your gift.
Don’t let it stop you.