Thank You, God, for Giving me Anxiety

I’ve been in a fight with my anxiety for a long time now.

I first started noticing it in high school when I was busting ass to get into the top 25% of my 800 person class , trying to rock my classes and get a decent score on the ACT. I had to get into my top choice school, Miami of Ohio, and focus was never my strong point.

I ruined every family vacation growing up thanks to my incarcerating anxiety. Whether we were shopping for a prom dress while on vacation in Florida or eating a meal at an unhealthy restaurant in South Carolina, I always found something to be anxious and worried about. God bless my family for their patience (and for still traveling with me).

College came and then, afterward, I started my career and did my stint of dating guys that weren’t right for me. My anxiety was definitely NOT my friend during these times. In fact, it started to take a staring role in my life.  My days consisted of a racing heart, paranoia, shaking, lack of sleep, having to step away during work to take deep breaths among many other uncomfortable symptoms.

Thankfully, my anxiety is now under control and livable (I am forever grateful to you my dear pharmaceutical company!).  But let’s be honest, it will never be totally gone.  And I’m very grateful for that.  

As some of you have gathered, I really like working. This runs in my family. If I don’t have a “passion project,” a book to read (or write!), a presentation to give, a class to take, a new business idea to toss around or a person to meet in addition to my day job, I’m completely lost. I don’t really watch TV- I just can’t go that long without intellectual stimulation.

Although my anxiety level is no longer the leading lady in my life, it is the engine that fuels my career.

My anxiety (or maybe we should call it energy?) keeps me working hard, meeting people, learning new skills and diversifying my experiences. This engine is my “career insurance policy,” and my career’s “portfolio diversification strategy.”Without anxiety, I’d probably be sitting on the couch every night after work with no major accomplishemnts to reflect my time. I’d also have nothing to catch me if life didn’t go according to plan.

I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the boyfriends and people who said I was “way too young to take life so seriously” or that I “work too much” and should “relax and enjoy my life.” Well people, I’m happy to report that I couldn’t be enjoying my life more than I am right now. The people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and the opportunities ahead of me would not exist had it not been for my high “anxiety” level.

As they say, “when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”  Today I encourage you to pick one of your major weaknesses and look at it as a strength instead!  Embrace the unique insanity that is you.

• What characteristic(s) did you formerly view as a hindrence but now view as a blessing? For example, maybe you started life out as calm and shy and now you realize it has made you a great observer and a serious asset in times of disaster. Maybe you were the class clown and now it makes you a top sales person.

• Was there a specific event that made you realize your “weakness” was actually a strength?

• Do you feel your teachers did a good job of developing students’ strengths?

• What did people tell you about yourself that you no longer believe is true?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.