I received this question on Quora the other day and it is a question that strikes an emotional chord with me.
Because I asked this question every single day throughout my late teen years, university years and in to my early-mid 20s.
Thrive Global family: brace yourself, its about to get personal. I never opened up about this to anyone before.
One night in particular comes to mind when I was 16:
I was different. I was not like many other 16 year-olds wondering where the next party was at and which house party to crash on Friday nights. I was thinking about life! I was thinking about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I was trying to tire my mind into exhaustion so I could sleep. But I could not. The hours passed by, and found myself awake as the sun rose the next morning and the sky turned from that dark midnight black to baby blue.
I was planning my 20s already! I was looking way too far ahead and that was just one night of many.
I was obsessed with that idea!
Then that idea morphed into something more.
The image I had of myself in my head, of that person that I envisioned myself in being, I just felt I was not living up to and especially more so, when I had laid out how that person would come to fruition as I planned out my 20s.
What ended up happening?
I broke myself down. I tore myself apart. I was my harshest inner-critic. I belittled myself for not doing this, and not being that and instead taking myself out of the present moment and found myself debilitated in making decisions to experience many aspects of life that others were able to experience, like dating, or travelling, etc.
I skipped out on all of those experiences.
Because I was not making any decisions! Just sitting on the sidelines wanting to act, but never could.
Those days turned into weeks, and those weeks turned into months and those months turned into years.
Years that although were somewhat successful, like graduating university in 3 years at the age of 20, to getting my MBA two years later at 22 to hitting the ground running in the Banking industry. I still felt, however, that I was not moving fast enough due to my own making.
My coworkers at my first gig, were the first to call it. And it woke me up, but I still brushed it aside, chalking it up to “growing pains”. There were many times where I was in the “right” but was not able to defend myself because of my anxiety disorder, making decisions and sticking to them.
They urged me to, “get out of my own way!”
As I approached 25, I still had those thoughts, those self-doubts, those insecurities always mentally asking myself if I was capable of this, or ‘smart enough’ to do that. Those thoughts of never feeling I was hitting those milestones that I set for myself and fell off those timelines.
This caused feelings of inadequacy and deeper insecurities. The worst part is? I was doing this all to myself. This was not coming from the outside. It was me. All me.
At 25, I confessed to myself that this was not sustainable. I was mentally drained. I should not be. I was only 25 for goodness sake! I still have not experienced real life yet.
I lost my appetite for life and that, I knew was the real tragedy.
Finally, I made the decision right before my 26th birthday to get help and take action.
- I practiced meditation. I talked to myself towards the end of each day to quickly reflect, but never ever dwell.
- I gave myself a set time throughout the day to let my mind and thoughts run wild. Only an hour and then control it enough to shut it down.
- Finally, I sought a professional. I talked about it. No way, I could turn to my parents, plagued by old societal norms. Fortunately, I had a great professional. I not only talked about it, but saw for myself that a lot of aspects in life, were aspects that I was not seeing clearly or rightfully and that I was viewing things from a terrible point of view. One that was plagued by my own previous disappointments that provided a distorted lens for future events.
Note: There is always a source for your anxiety and depression. There is a key factor. You have to drill down to the source and dig in to your past to learn and understand why. There is something in your past that was unresolved. I found mine. I accepted what happened. I analyzed it. I learned and I made my peace with it and I finally moved on.
- You have to find yours. At 28 now, I have never felt more secure about myself as I have ever felt as a man. I do have some lingering thoughts, I am human. However, for the most part where I am now and where I was at 24–25 before taking action was light years away.
- I urge you to do the same and to take it a day at a time and to also, bet on yourself. You will end up surprising yourself in a great way.
Originally published at Quora