Celebrate the Little Things

 Photos by Tommy Heffernan

Photos by Tommy Heffernan

This is not the post I had planned for today, but it is the post that feels right, so I'm just going to roll with it! Here's a not so fun fact - I've dealt with anxiety since I hit my teenage years. Now anxiety is far from uncommon, I'm sure everyone has had at least one moment in their lives where they panicked. My anxiety just happened to creep in, slowly but surely, and settle over everything in my life.

Social anxiety was probably the first thing to hit, and still the most bothersome in my life now, but I've also experienced anxiety surrounding my body, food, school, and work. Oddly enough for someone who considers themselves restless and loves to travel, I've even gone through periods of mild agoraphobia. Anxiety is a part of my life, and might always be a part of my life, but that's why I think it is so important to celebrate every small victory.

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Up until a few years ago, I hated having my picture taken. It made my thoughts race, not knowing how the photo would turn out, and assuming it would turn out badly. It may seem like a silly small thing, but there are an awful lot of people out there who I know feel the same way. Because of my anxiety around it, I take a moment to feel proud of myself every time I'm in front of a camera these days. Every time someone takes photos of me for my blog or I take a selfie for Instagram, I celebrate that moment, even if it still makes me anxious sometimes, I am still doing it and still getting used to it.

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When I was applying to colleges in high school, my biggest goal was to go abroad. I knew that was what I wanted and I wanted it as soon as possible. Amazingly, I ended up in London for my freshmen year. It was an incredible experience, but I won't pretend it was an easy one. My anxiety ramped up the moment I got there. I loved learning, but going to class wrapped me up in an overwhelming feeling of not being good enough. At times I'd get so panicky that I wouldn't go to the grocery store alone for weeks, choosing instead to quietly live off instant oatmeal and vending machine food. It's not a pretty thing to think about. It's actually pretty damn cringey. But it's also reality. Today, I celebrate every single time I go out and explore on my own or speak up in class, because those are the exact things that would have seemed unimaginable to me a few years ago.

I feel like half the battle with anxiety, or fear or any kind, is learning to cope. Things like self-care and avoiding caffeine have been game changers in my life, but the most meaningful part of coping has been that relentless celebration. Every single baby step is of value. But whether or not you have anxiety, doing something similar can both ground you and make you happier in the long run. Keep a gratitude journal or just make a mental note of every small accomplishment you achieve! Believe me, they add up.

 Photos by Tommy Heffernan

Photos by Tommy Heffernan