Well That's One Anxiety

Anxiety can come in so many various shapes and forms. It can come on slow and mild, with an ever present background feel of constant unease. It can also come on with the force of being hit by a truck while one's back was turned, seemingly out of nowhere. This can leave one in a state of despair, sweating, panicking, lost in a sea of constant thought loops as one tries to figure out how it manifested, where it came from and what the source was.

Anxiety is far too big a topic for a few paragraphs, so I would instead like to focus on a specific kind of anxiety I have learned to understand more than the "hit by a truck" type. Just so you know, this article is pertaining to myself, feelings and emotions vary significantly between one person and another. However if by any chance someone else can relate to and be helped by it, then I feel I've done some sort of good in this world.

This sort of anxiety is the background feeling, the one that if left unchecked for too long, will push its way to the front. This anxiety creeps in, it's hard to even notice it at first, maybe a little sense of unease making itself known here and there. Give it an hour, and it will become a constant. I never listened, I ignored it. For years I thoughf this it’s how I’m supposed to feel, “get used to it” I would tell myself. It wasn’t until my late twenties where I began to listen more to what my body and gut were telling me. It took me years to finally decipher it, but it finally hit me.

My subconcious, my gut, my self, whatever you want to call it - uses anxiety as a way to tell me I’m not doing what I should be doing. For years it manifested in a safe dead end job, I’d feel it every day, all day. It would manifest when I was staying at home all day and doing nothing, instead of at least reading a book, making music or being in any way productive. This anxiety only dissipated when I was taking care of my mother, who was dying from pancreatic cancer. I had a purpose, for a while at least. When she was gone, it came back.

Trying to figure out what I should be doing is the hardest part at times, but when it goes away I get this pleasurable sense of being on the right path. Since understanding this particular anxiety, I’ve had it come and go. Most notably was fall of 2018 when it began to make itself known most heavily, almost 24/7. Something was wrong, I had to do something and I had no idea what, but obviously something knew inside of me. It took some time but I realized I had to take a risk, do something I’d never done before. I booked a flight to Los Angeles all by myself and putting myself in a good debt while doing so. Amazingly enough, the moment I booked that flight, the anxiety flew away as well. It felt immediate. I was back on the right track.

Why did I need that trip? The short story is, I needed to grow as a human, and boy did I ever. I needed to prove to myself what I could do, and to do something I’d never done before on a grand scale. The long story? Maybe that will be posted someday.

As of writing this, my anxiety is still much lower than it has been in years. I’m working a fun job with plenty of networking opportunities, doing plenty of photography while getting thousands of steps on the Fit Bit. Yet even still, that particular anxiety will make itself known if I’m not making proper use of my time. It’s like a little nagging noise saying, “Jesse, you’re better than this. You know what you should be doing, and you’re not doing it. Do it. Now. Get on it. Do it. Get after it. Go.” The ever present sound of Jocko Willink for those who listen to him. It will relentlessly continue this so long as I am off course, the only solution is to do what I know I need to do.

In closing, I’d like to once again point out I am not formally educated. This is one bit of anxiety I have learned to understand in the last few years, I still have yet to comprehend the sudden feeling of absolute peril anxiety that can often strike at the most random of times. I am a work in progress, as are we all. So long as we continue to learn, adapt, and grow, we’ll be alright


Right before I start I would like to point out that most of my knowledge on any subjects posted here are simply my opinions. I am not formally educated on any subjects, my knowledge comes from reading books, listening to podcasts and lectures by people far more experienced than I am.

I've been thinking about this for the last while now, admittedly it started off simply by listening to the King Of Kings series on Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast. Phobos, the personification of fear in ancient Greek mythology. They said it ruled the battlefield, and understandably so. Dan spoke about the levels of fear the ancient solider must have faced, how it would take everything they had not to run away knowing what was going to happen. The fear I'm going into is not nearly on this level, but fear is fear and fear still exists in all of our lives.

Phobos. I write this now as one who understands fear deeply, generally from the receiving end. Throughout my life I've unfortunately given in to fear many times, more than I'd like to admit. There was a time when fear ruled me and more often than not, I'd be it's slave. Fear took many forms for me, though it seems change was its number one form. There was nothing that scared me more, I was happy in my little bubble, working my safe job, with my safe routine, that had the safe benefits and life became a life of existing and not so much living. If there was one thing that got me over the fear of change, it was having absolutely no choice in the matter. When disease strikes loved ones, when jobs have to be left and life swirls out of control, change is everywhere and despite the hardships, I'm better off for it. I'm not "over" fear, but I've slowly learned to understand and control it... Though Phobos still swoops in on my mental battlefield and dominates me time to time, once again making me feel as a slave.

I'm not going to pretend like I'm the master at confronting fear, I'm writing this from a mind space where it had once again won me over not long ago. I write this because I know many others experience the same issues and that maybe, just maybe this will help someone else confront that fear. I've learned the greatest obstacle in life can often be of our own creations. Our shadow can fabricate and exaggerate our fears, making them greater than they actually are. This isn't all negative though, we need shadow in order to feel the warmth of light. We can’t have one and not have the other, a life of pure happiness isn’t possible. The bad times allow us to appreciate the good times, adversity makes us stronger, and conquering our fears can make us feel better about ourselves in leaps and bounds. The idea isn’t to pretend as if Phobos doesn’t exist, but to understand it, and overcome it.

2018 was a year of great progress for me, especially in the department of conquering my fears. Be it through nearly 40 photoshoots, the wild interactions and socializing I had to do to further my photography and most notably, traveling for the first and second times which includes a solo trip, I definitely rose up and defied Phobos. One doesn’t overcome fear in one day, maybe not even in a lifetime, but each little decision we make over the course of our lives will have impact on how we deal with these feelings. The more we are able to defy it rather than accept defeat, the more we can continue life under our own terms, with confidence and love for ourselves, while embracing the humility that we are in fact human and no one goes through this life without encountering Phobos. We are all stronger than we think, and if we do give in on occasion, we know that it is okay, and we will come back fighting.