Today is Day 5 at Braver Than Before, and I can’t tell you how much I have been enjoying this experience so far! I have learned so much, connected with so many friends (both new and old), and taken some really big steps forward in my journey with fear and anxiety. Not only that, but a couple of cool things have happened with the blog that I am excited to share.
First of all, I am pleased to announce that Braver Than Before has become a proud member of the Mental Health Writer’s Guild. I am excited to be a part of a community that is dedicated to bringing awareness to the area of mental health and reducing the stigma attached to these struggles.
Secondly, I’m super excited about the fact that I have secured a new and simplified domain name for this site: braverthanbefore.com. It has been so evident to me in the first few days of this initiative that there is a need for this kind of raw, open community in our individualistic online world. For me, obtaining the domain name for this site felt like an opportunity for Braver Than Before to become more than a one-sided blog; rather it could become a movement of real, imperfect people, journeying together to overcome anxiety and fear. I am excited for that!
So today I feel like celebrating these first 5 days of this new adventure! And to do so, I thought that I would share with you 5 specific things that I have learned this week through my endeavor to become braver than before, and through your participation in the journey! So here we go!
1. Anxiety happens. I need to be ready.
I have made a ton of progress over the past few weeks in my battle with fear and anxiety. But the reality is that I still have a long way to go. I wish it was as simple as pushing a button to make anxiety go away, but that just isn’t how it works. I have had some amazing anxiety-free days this month, but also some days where the struggle was real. I have learned that I can’t take the good days for granted, and I need to use them to prepare for the bad ones. On the good days I need to take advantage of my energy, positive headspace and lack of anxiety symptoms to do things like practice deep breathing, memorize helpful Bible quotes, exercise, and prepare healthy meals for the upcoming week. That way, on the bad days, I will be better equipped to enter the battle.
2. I should trust my friends.
I have many amazing friends in my life that are so loving, caring, and supportive. Yet sometimes, without realizing it, I can get caught up in my insecurities and forget that my friends actually just love me for me. Earlier this week I felt the need to have a vulnerable conversation with a friend. It would mean humbling myself, admitting my weaknesses and mistakes, and asking for some help. It shouldn’t be hard to approach a friend to talk candidly about your personal struggles and weaknesses. But I find these kinds of conversations really scary (guessing I’m not alone on this one). I was anxious to initiate this dialogue, and felt I had to have everything rehearsed and prepared before I went into it. But that’s not what friendship is. It shouldn’t have to be rehearsed. It should just be real, genuine and honest. Vulnerability in friendships is a good thing. It helps relationships grow! In the end, I opted to have the conversation unscripted, because I knew it was only my anxiety that wanted to have everything figured out in advance. Through this I learned that I simply need to trust my friends more. They are my friends for a reason, and it’s NOT because I’m perfect! It’s just because I’m me.
3. Everyone else is a hot mess too.
I have absolutely LOVED the flood of feedback that I have received about this blog over the course of the last few days. The overwhelming response has shown me that I am not even close to being alone in the struggles that I face with anxiety, fear, and matters of mental health. Sometimes I wonder if people will read my posts and realize how much of a hot mess I am. But on the contrary, what I have discovered through Braver Than Before is that we are all just a bunch of hot messes together! And I love that! I love that my willingness to open up and be vulnerable has given others the courage to do the same. That is one of my greatest goals through this site… to help people realize that talking about your struggles, and inviting other people into your journey, is fundamental to healing and your ability to overcome.
4. The more I give, the more I grow.
Something happened in me this week that I didn’t expect. As I wrote about my daily struggles, opened up my heart to the world, and then received story after story of people who were struggling through the same things I was, I began to feel a deeper sense of compassion for others in my situation. It’s not that I had no compassion before. I always knew that I wanted this blog to help and encourage people. But that desire grew stronger throughout the course of the week, because the more I shared, the more other people shared with me. I experienced growth in my life as a direct response to the amount of myself that I was willing to share. As I look back on the past six months as I have battled through the worst anxiety of my life, I recognize that one of the reasons I stopped growing is because I shut people out. I would shrink away from opportunities to share myself. This is not easy to do when you are in the thick of anxiety. But it is an important goal to work towards. This week I have realized that the more I give, the more I grow.
5. God is cheering for me.
I was just talking to a friend this afternoon about how I have often gone through life thinking that if I want something—anything—it must be selfish. Through the years, my perfectionism and obsessive compulsive nature has penetrated even into my faith as a Christian, and caused me to have a hard time navigating the ideas of sacrifice and obedience to God. I have this idea that life pretty much has to be hard all the time, or else I’m somehow not good enough; that if something is easy or enjoyable for me, well then it must not be from God because it seems too selfish. But this week God reminded me, once again (this has been an ongoing point of learning for me), that He is cheering for me. He made me with special gifts and abilities to accomplish great things, and to enjoy doing it! Writing, for me, is one of those gifts that I LOVE using! There were a few times this week when I really questioned whether or not authoring this blog was selfish, simply because I was enjoying it so much. But God reminded me that He has lead me here to this point, and He is excited for me to put my gifts (the ones He gave me, after all) to good use!
Thank you for being a part of the launch of Braver Than Before! If you have been following the blog this week, I would love to know what has stuck out to you. Leave me a comment and let me know what you are learning on your road to courage!