According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54 suffer from an anxiety.
I realize opening with that staggering statistic isn’t exactly a recipe for calmness, but it’s the raw truth.
Somewhere along the way, anxiety has been slapped with a lot of labels which is why I have decided to be vulnerable with you today.
I struggle with anxiety.
I would love to tell you that some large life event has caused me to become anxious because that would be a good reason, right?
However, through the years I have resided on the fact that anxiety doesn’t always have nor need a reason to exist.
Sometimes anxiety exists just the same as your morning routine.
It sneaks in there like you won’t notice.
“Oh hey, how is that coffee? I bet your boss hates you.”
The voice of anxiety is rarely coherent.
Most of the time it spews irrationalities at you just to see what sticks.
Most days, people with anxiety have to pick and choose which of those splats are going to make the biggest mess in their day.
As someone that admittedly lives with anxiety I can honestly tell you that explaining the existence of it within my day is much like nailing Jell-O to a wall.
I could give you a few random medical facts followed by a variety of examples, but the truth is it really only makes sense to me and even then…rarely.
Anxiety in the workplace is that unwanted coworker that overshares as you are getting a cup of coffee in the breakroom.
“I see you are getting coffee. I like coffee. I bet your coworker thinks all you do is get coffee.”
It’s irrational and irritating.
I want you to know that above all else, anxiety and the work place exists for many, many people.
You are not alone.
There are so many that struggle with that devilish inner dialog and fight with it internally daily.
I also want you to know that it is ok.
Anxiety may be an unwanted coworker, but it does not make you different.
Some employees search for approval through different avenues in the work place.
Some employees place themselves in competitions that no one else is aware of.
Some employees work selfishly.
Some employees work quietly.
Some employees work loudly.
Some employees worry.
Anxiety is just another feeling in a world where feelings are all around us.
Yes, I have anxiety.
This has seeped into the workplace now and then with it’s annoying tap on my shoulder and it is hard work to override that voice.
The fight goes somewhat like this;
Anxiety: That report looks like crap
Me: I have worked hard on it. I am okay with changes that need to be made.
Anxiety: Really? You worked SO hard on it. They will tear it apart
Me: Constructive criticism is a part of life.
Anxiety: It will be a lot of red ink on that paper…
Me: Red is a pretty color
Anxiety: You are exhausting
…and so it goes.
We all have that inner voice that whispers insecurities and for some of your coworkers it has manifested in the form of anxiety.
They aren’t crazy or depressed, they are honest.
They are vulnerable.
They are open to saying “You know, this situation makes me jittery”
There is something extremely refreshing about that kind of honesty.
That is the kind of honesty I would want in a mentor and leader.
The type of honesty that doesn’t roll everything nicely in a coating of sugar crystals.
Sometimes, raw unfiltered honesty is that breath of fresh air that can breathe life into an extremely human moment.
Just as admitting nobody is perfect and how freeing that acknowledgment can be in a work environment, the same goes for admitting anxiety.
You can be a valuable employee that also has anxiety because you know what it is like to rise above and have the courage to move forward anyway.
I am an employee with anxiety and I have taken back the power by saying it out loud and sharing that even though it exists in my world, I have no problem kicking it to the curb to meet my goals.
Take a seat anxiety, I have mountains to move.