I loved to have friends and enjoyed my time with them BUT…I had a secret that I kept for a very long time. Situations easily became too much for me to handle and missing school was happening often because of my SECRET. In elementary school I missed so many days that my teacher suspected I was being bullied and reached out to my parents to talk to me. Luckily, I was not being bullied or bothered by anyone…anyone except MYSELF. Being brought in to situations which are supposed to be fun and exciting like birthday parties or big events were absolutely horrifying to me. All my life I avoided any new people and new situations. You see, I suffer from extreme social anxiety.
On the outside I looked like I had it all together but on the inside I was dying to get everyday over with. I was rushing through life and living this way was so awful. Everyday life would present me with this overwhelming panic when doing “normal things”. I will never forget when I started college how insane it was for me. A huge school, all new people, not a single friend in sight that I could use as a security blanket. In class, people were chatting and making friends quickly and I was just there trying to mask all the thoughts and feelings going on inside of me. Group projects forced me to have to speak to other class mates and at one of our group meetings one of my class mates said out loud “hey guys remember when we all thought Leigha was a SNOB and such a BITCH because she wouldn’t talk to anyone”! That statement made me want to crawl away in a dark space and never look back. If only they knew why I didn’t speak to anyone, how embarrassing that would be to admit but also how awful it is that people thought I was stuck up for being so ridiculously shy.
This anxiety was ruining my life and it was sabotaging amazing opportunities. I stayed at a dead-end job for EIGHT years, I stayed in awful relationships all because I was too scared to have to date anyone else and get used to a new person all over again. I was so unfulfilled and knew I was worth so much more but I didn’t know how to break out of this shell. I knew I had to get out of my thoughts because they were poisonous. I was making myself sick and I needed to end this way of life because it was no life at all. I needed to take a leap in to the unknown and that was when my life changed DRAMATICALLY!
I was a caged bird and finally I opened the door and it felt like I took my first flight ever. I wrote down a list of every goal I wanted to achieve and I kept it in my wallet. I looked at it every day and at the top of my list was breaking up with my boyfriend (he was so insanely wrong for me). Breaking up was scary for me because even though he was not my future, he was what I knew. He was predictable and he was what seemed like a “safe” choice…but he was not my forever and I knew it. I broke up with him and it was almost immediately that old friends starting coming in to my life, then leading to going out and meeting new friends (who are now my best friends). I had dropped the dead weight (my ex) and I felt so free. The real Leigha was emerging and she was ready to get on with life!
Next on my list was finding a new job. So I fixed up my resume and I decided I needed to find a good recruiter, that way I couldn’t back down when job offers came and it would be someone to hold me accountable. Things started happening so fast! The very next week she called me with an AMAZING job opportunity with everything I asked for, I said YES even though my anxiety said NO. Exactly one week later I was walking in to my new job at the Criminal Courts as a Litigation Secretary. HORRIFYING to say the least when I discovered that it was routine that each time I walked in to the building I had to go through a metal detector and get patted down and checked by court officers (who were always slightly attractive)! This made me die knowing I had to go through this process and still look cool and un-bothered meanwhile ANXIETY OVERLOAD. I then was presented with rushes of criminals and their lawyers at my window waiting to be served…again UNCOMFORTABLE TO SAY THE LEAST. I had to go to the police station daily to retrieve disclosures and evidence, which was intimidating because here I was, little Leigha walking in and handling BUSINESS. Lastly, I had to deal with Crown Attorneys who were mostly a nightmare. They lived to make me feel inferior and really tested the limits with me. Everything I avoided in my life came at me times ten and guess what…. IT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED!!!
It was such a high crossing that goal off my list and overcoming that fear! I became a GOAL DIGGER!!!! I took every goal on that list and one by one smashed them all. That year I did the most growing in my life. I learned who I REALLY was and I also learned that people are just that….PEOPLE! We are all human and we all get nervous at different times but we cannot let it debilitate us and become a road block. I had to go through being thrown in to life to finally live it! So my lesson for the day is that YOU ARE CAPABLE OF HANDLING ANY SITUATION and the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become. If little Leigha can do it, YOU CAN TOO!
A rehabilitated nervous wreck