By Jordan Thompson
Stress is a ball and chain to our self-esteem, and I will never be the same since it was a part of me and who I was for a while.
With stress, sleep only makes you more tired. People’s problems only wear you out. The anxiety eats away at your character, and things that once deeply mattered to you become less important.
It is sad, really, how uncontrollable stress can be when a young girl like me, with so much potential, doesn’t know it’s there until it is too late. Girls, do you remember when we were too young to care about calories, nice clothes and makeup techniques? And boys, remember when it didn’t matter how big your arms were or how deep your voice was?
Back then, everything on the inside was enough; and as a little girl all I ever cared about was everything that actually mattered; relationships, dreams, goals and what made me smile.
You know, I think I would be a better person if I was more like the girl I was when I was 12.
How and when exactly did I convince myself I needed to be skinnier? I didn’t need to be thinner – I was healthy and capable – my only expectations of myself were based off of what I thought was pretty. I was just a kid though; why did I start worrying about how appealing I looked before I was even of driving age? And how did that deeply embedded insecurity eventually turn into an eating disorder?
The Jordan my friends knew was lovable for her spunky attitude and bravery, not for how skinny she was. And yet I was stressed out about the way a tank top fit my body more than anything.
In a perfect world we would live stress free, but this world is far from perfect and you cannot run away from the cards you’re dealt. Even if we let go of all our current problems, broke free from their grip; new ones would leech on to our skin. If you ignore stress, and numb your mind to the pain and anxiety you feel, it won’t leave; it will grow, and rock bottom will be waiting for you-cold and uncomfortable.
If you take your stress out in anger, the people who love you will only be able to walk on eggshells for so long before they get tired of you. People make the mistake of assuming that because they are suffering, they have the right to take it out on those around them. What they don’t realize is that consciously keeping themselves in check and making an effort to respect and care for others puts your whole life into perspective-in fact it helped me great deal.
Stress can cloud your vision and make you grow selfish over time, but if you can learn to combat it by genuinely concerning yourself with others, it really does heal your heart. Stress in small doses is necessary, stresses in high doses will shape who you are. It is the rough patches of our lives that make us believe in the things we believe, and love the way that we do, however they do not ‘make us stronger’ that is up to us to lift the weights that will build muscle.
I wish I could say that the trials I have gone through in my life made me stronger, but that just isn’t true-they weakened me. I had to fall, get back up, and regain my strength. That is what saved me from myself, not the stress and anxiety alone.
Storms make an oak tree’s roots grow deeper; and at this age, our roots are still growing. High school gives young adults a mere sample of what life will throw at them. This is the time where you must readjust your perspective and realize that tomorrow will come and the responsibilites that sung you to sleep will be there in the morning.
But they shouldn’t engulf your whole life; deep down we all know what actually matters; the music that speaks to your heart, the people in your life that love you, the beautiful places that you’ve always wanted to see, that one food that always sounds good to you, your dog that always wags their tail when you walk in, the way it feels to jump into a pool on a day in July, the feeling after someone looks you in the eyes and says “thank you.” The way it feels to be in love.
These are a handful of life’s gifts that will actually matter when we’re so old that all we have are cherished memories. There is no addiction, unhealthy relationship, sport, person, or eating disorder that should be more important than your own satisfaction with the life you’ve been given.
My self-esteem has fluctuated more than I ever thought it would. I used to be confident; I loved myself and accepted my flaws, and I never thought I would be that girl looking in the mirror despising the reflection. Stress made me forget who I was.
I have always been a dreamer, and yet when stress was at its strongest I didn’t care about my passions in life. And even worse, I didn’t think I would ever be able to succeed with them anyways. Stress killed my confidence; I would try to take deep breaths and I would only feel my stomach muscles tightening. Every day I would wake up and I would be hit with a wave of nausea and dread.
The more I ignored my responsibilities, the more they haunted me, and in their time untouched they grew and matured into monsters.
I tried to tell myself I was still happy, but I wasn’t fooling anyone except myself. I know now that sometimes you don’t realize you’re asleep until the moment you wake up.