Open When You’re Scared: A Mental Health Letter to You

It’s October. Frightening decorations are everywhere, and eerie gusts of wind are trickling down your neck. Halloween is approaching. It’s “Spooky Season,” after all. Despite all of this, the fear that I will be addressing in this letter is something quite different.

You opened this letter, meaning you are looking for some sort of relief from your fears. Whether you are scared about an upcoming exam, approaching a crush, wearing that risky outfit that has been beckoning from your closet for ages, speaking up for yourself, or even just being more confident, I am here to offer my advice.

If you’ve opened this letter, like me, you’re most likely experiencing some sort of worry. As humans, we all get scared sometimes; it is simply not in most of our natures to “be chill” all the time. We obsess over little inconveniences, destroy ourselves over small failures and torture our minds if we do not meet the exceedingly unreasonable standards we set for ourselves. The worst part is that everyone feels like this, but nearly no one shows it, causing us to fall into a wormhole of delusion because “Everyone else seems to have it together, so why don’t I?” Well, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. 

You’ve probably heard this before because our generation has been exposed to an astronomical amount of pressure, but here’s the catch: we put it on ourselves! We see others living seemingly fairytale-like lives and compare it to our own without considering, just for a second, that it all might be fake. If you have ever been to the beach, you have, at some point, probably seen one side of the beach sunny and cloudless while the other is dark, stormy and leaves you with a sick, foreboding feeling. That’s exactly how the internet can be: one giant catfish. Many of our problems involving fear come from these habits of comparison. If you are afraid of failure, it is probably because you have seen so many people reach their goals and post about it, while you sit there disappointed in yourself for not doing the same. You might even form a comment to praise them for their accomplishment but deep down resent their success and kick yourself for your own “inadequacy” or laziness. 

The first step to overcoming this mentality is to make yourself a priority over others. This might sound selfish, but once you have a solid idea of who you are, your own failures and everyone else’s opinions of you become miniscule. Most of our fears are in our heads. The key to getting rid of them is this: let go of what you can not control and live in the present. Do not fear what lies ahead; instead, focus on building a foundation of self-love that will pick you up when you feel lost or apprehensive. If you are scared of something that involves other people, usually, communication is the healthiest way to go. Put your feelings out there, and you will most likely be received with support and understanding. You can face your fears with confidence once you consider the fact that there is always someone close to you with a similar worry, so stop believing that you are the only one. 

If it is something else, constantly remind yourself of the uselessness of anxiety. Professional NHL hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said,“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you channel your fear into productivity, you will accomplish much more than wasting your energy away by being paralyzed by fear. 

If you are scared of school or are struggling with a large course load, remember that it is normal to feel overwhelmed at times, but one bad grade is not the end of the world. You will get through school. You will earn that degree. You will finish that assignment on time, and if not, you will still succeed. You need to prioritize your mental health because a healthy mind will make everything about your life less scary. An assertive mindset will help you in all areas of struggle. Get over your fears by denying that they exist. Timidity will only hold you back from being the best person  you can be. 

Remember this: things are only embarrassing if you are embarrassed; exams are only intimidating if you let them overwhelm you; your fears of looking stupid are only holding you back; showing up as your best self can be achieved, just visualize them. You might be thinking, “It can’t be that easy.” Oh, but it is! 

Nelson Mandela once said,“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” His words carry so much weight because we can all admit that most everything that has ever scared us in the past always seemed way less intimidating after doing it. This is because our minds amplify the severity of reality when we are almost never right about it being that scary. With that in mind, with whatever is causing you fear right now, imagine the feeling of getting it over with, and you will realize that your anxiety has been lying to you all along. You have nothing to lose by facing your situation with confidence instead of fear, because you know that after it is done you will be disappointed in yourself for ever being scared in the first place. You will regret not using your energies to, instead, be excited about what lies ahead — to enjoy it! 

Now listen, you. Yes, you. You will figure everything out. You will meet your deadlines. You will make it happen. You will not fail. 

Remember to treat yourself with love. You do not have to be tough all the time, and it is impossible to never be scared. At least try to fear the little things less because we all know that stress is pointless in the end, and it will ultimately hold you back from being that best version of yourself that I know you are so capable of materializing. 

 

Mental Health Services and Information:

UNC CAPS: https://caps.unc.edu/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: www.adaa.org

Internet Mental Health: http://mentalhealth.com/home/

National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org

National Empowerment Center: https://power2u.org/what/

National Institute of Mental Health: www.nimh.nih.gov/

 

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