Growing up, my family sheltered me from all the things that scared me and from all the things a family should shelter their child from. However, as I grew up, I continued to be sheltered as though I was still a child. This means that as I grew older, I remained sheltered from:
- Other worldviews and perspectives on religion (particularly ways of interpreting the Bible)
- Other demographics of people (specifically LGBTQ people)
- Money & finances
- Getting a Job
The problem with this is that when I left my home after graduating high school and heading on to college, I ended up being exposed to too much, too fast. I remember getting extremely anxious and shaky because I was in a car with closed bottles of beer. I got scared once at a party because there was too many loud noises and bright lights. The sensory overload was just too much. I even get triggered whenever sex is mentioned in conversations, even casually.
This makes me feel like a “disabled” adult, and that’s not to say that I have a diagnosed disability, but I feel incapable of doing some things that other adults can do, and I feel unable to do some of these things because of my anxiety. A perfect example is how I don’t even have a job despite needing to get one to pay for college. I am too anxious and afraid to take the steps to phone in and request that I may have an interview. I have gone to one job interview before, but it was scary and I feared that I could potentially get bullied if they ever found out that I myself was a gay man.
My anxiety restricts me from doing so much in life. I don’t go to parties, which is fine, but it can be very hard when my friends all go out to a party and I have to say no because “it’s just too much for me.” It’s also very hard being close with someone who I know isn’t a virgin too. This is partially because sex was demonized for me as I grew up in a toxic belief system which made sex restricted to certain demographics (straight married people). I also get anxious around sex because of jealousy too. I myself am a virgin and I went to private school with virgins. When I went to college and met all these friends who actively had sex and felt comfortable talking about it…needless to say, I was out of my element.
Nowadays, when I would meet people who would get high or drunk, I would feel in mortal danger, afraid for my life because I don’t like being around others who can’t think clearly. Now don’t misunderstand me…I understand that drinking alcohol is not morally wrong, and that weed has it’s health benefits, and I don’t place a negative value on these behaviors. I just simply get anxious when I observe these behaviors because it’s so new to me.
I still struggle in college because there is so much talk about alcohol and sex and it messes with my anxiety at times. It’s hard to make friends when they make jokes about sex or go out for shots every week. I just pray for the day that I can move on from my anxiety so that I can be friends with people who drink and participate in safe sex.
It’s especially hard to make friends with those who live differently than me since many assume that I am judging them for drinking or having sex, and being a devoted Christian oddly makes others view me as more judgmental. Growing up in a religiously restrictive environment definitely played a factor in my anxiety, though my current faith in Jesus is what made me seek out others who are different than myself. It is my faith in Jesus that gave me the standard to love LGBT people as I love myself, or to accept someone for their differences even if the church itself couldn’t or wouldn’t do so.
I pray that I can move on from my triggers, because I want to be able to associate with others in boldness and make friends of all kinds. As someone who wants to be a therapist, I need to learn this so that I can absorb the emotional baggage of my future clients. I know I can overcome my anxiety, I just have to keep processing my emotions and moving towards rationality, and away from anxiety; towards healing, and away from trauma; towards a new version of myself, and away from me old me.