Words by Gianna Sibal
I am not a risk-taker.
Some would say I’m boring and too much of a worrier, some say I’m too by-the-book, and some say I have a type A personality—which basically means that in everything I can control, I plan, and things must always go according to plan.
Which is why I find it difficult, more so than others, to take risks.
Risks are…well, in my opinion, they’re too unpredictable. Scary. Without a plan, you never know if things might go right or wrong, and the only chance of knowing is to take that leap of faith and try. And believe me, there are so many instances now when I couldn’t even think about trying—not because I didn’t want to, but because my anxiety is holding me back.
What if I get rejected? What if this ruins everything? What if this humiliates me and brings me utter shame and disgrace forever?
These thoughts cloud my head more times than I can imagine whenever I even think about doing something new, straying away from routine, and jumping over the ‘play safe’ line. My palms start to sweat, I’d need to grasp onto something or someone to keep my heartbeat in check, and I’d need to close my eyes and take deep breaths, count from one to ten, and then try to assure myself that nothing’s wrong.
And there’s no other word for it than terrifying. Sometimes, when it gets a bit too much, I’d think—why am I like this?
This is a constant battle I have with myself, and I’ll admit, the braver and the more confident side of me has lost so many times to anxiety. My mom was supposed to drop me off at a college party, but I chickened out and begged her to take me home because I didn’t know anyone there.
And a few months ago, I would’ve been ashamed to admit this, that I’d be seen as weak—but I realize now that even though I lost, I’m still fighting the battle. That alone makes me strong.
Sometimes, I’m victorious in these battles; here are 5 times my anxiety told me not to do it, but 5 times I still did:
1. Publishing my work online: I’m far from being a good fiction writer, and I was afraid of criticism and backlash from the content I create—but my love for writing and sharing my stories overpowered my panic and worries, and now, thousands of readers enjoy my books and I’m very happy writing in an online community and platform.
2. Auditioning for the dance team in my university: I’ve been dancing ever since I can remember, and once I stepped foot in university, I told myself that I’d stop and try to focus on my academics instead. However, I knew I’d miss the thrill and excitement of training and performing on stage, so I was encouraged to give it a try—even though I knew I wasn’t that good and I was amidst all the other dancers who were better than me. But, that try actually led me to an attack after I froze up on stage and my mind went blank; I’d forgotten the choreography. But, I still passed the initial round (which completely shocked me) and even though things went wrong in my audition, I told myself I still managed to sign up and go and do the auditions even if initially I was already scared to. And that’s something.
3. Hosting an event again after three years: I hosted a lot of events when I was in high school and back then, I was fine without a script and I was completely natural with a microphone in my hand. However, after years of taking a step back from the stage, I was tapped by my relatives to host our family reunion (comprised of almost 200 attendees)—and at first, I refused. I didn’t want to do it, I haven’t done it in so long, I’ll mess up—but with much difficulty, I overcame the unease, not because my family wanted me to, but I also thought, what if I don’t mess up? And on the day of the event, I didn’t.
4. Applying for the WIMternship: When I found out about When In Manila’s internship, it was a day before the deadline, and I was already set on not applying or submitting anything because how could I accomplish everything in one night? I’m far from being a great writer and I know everything I will produce will be things I’d want to throw away—but with a different perspective, a why not? from myself and my older sister, I completed all of the application tasks in one night, all produced in hard work and passion and sincerity, and though I was not expecting anything in return, I am now a part of WIM’s family. See? Risks.
5. Raising my hand in class: This may seem like a trivial thing, an everyday thing that people don’t think too much about or have no trouble doing—but even raising my hand in class to recite gives me anxiety. This did not happen to me in high school at all; my heart starts beating uncontrollably, and my head swarms with fear of being humiliated for my wrong answer, and I need to rehearse all the things I’m going to say in my mind before my hand is in the air. Still, whenever I do manage to get my hand up there, even with all of my nerves and my head telling me to put it down, I find that I win another battle.
My anxiety has held me back from a lot of things, but I’ve learned—and am learning, to try and overcome it even though it’s telling incredibly daunting and terrifying. Not taking a leap of faith may lead to regrets, and I don’t want to live the rest of my life wondering about the what ifs. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m taking the little steps towards fighting it. And that’s definitely something to celebrate.
To everyone who’s struggling in the same situation as I am, kudos to you. We are strong, and this is for all of our little accomplishments—hopefully, they become bigger.
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