I recently heard this woman giving a TED Talk using the term “shy-loud”. She was talking about High Functioning Anxiety and how people affected can be extremely shy and introverted yet also loud and extroverted at the same time. I did not need her to explain it. I knew what she meant.
See, some people simply are not shy. We don’t freeze when talking in front of an audience. We know how to keep up a conversation. And we are not scared of making a phone call. Yet, anxiety never leaves our side. And that is the tricky part: Walking around with the Poltergeist screaming and rumbling in the back of your head while maintaining a straight, no smiley face and a happy demeanor. We have become experts at it. Not to brag, but some of us can go a f*cking long way before we are finally dragged down by a mental episode. Exams? We'll pass them all with a golden star. Work? We'll show up on time and get sh*t done. Social Life? They call us “the life of the party” for a reason.
Still, every day it gets a little too much. A little too much stress. A bit too many people. A bit too many expectations. A little too much responsibility. A little bit. Always just a little bit. Enough that we feel overwhelmed by the force with which the outside world threatens to pummel us, but never so much that we end up not making it through the day. Somehow, we make it through each day. Because we know how to function. We have learned that. But hearts are not made to function. And ours need to rest.
So, there we have the dilemma. We have people experiencing this High Functioning Anxiety and, because we live in a world in which functioning is the main goal to achieve, we struggle to understand why this way of living is wrong. Because, yes, we feel like sh*t almost every day, but the results are good. In the end, we are getting things done, right? Therefore, it obviously cannot be that bad. Well, it can and it is!
Now back to the beautiful term “shy-loud”. The paradox is, that while you appear loud and fun on some occasions, you are extremely nervous and intimidated in other, seemingly less meaningful ones. Same thing with High Functioning Anxiety. You seem to be alright and succeeding in those areas that people tell you to be successful in, yet your heart is crumbling under the strain that it is constantly experiencing. Having to stay focused for hours while your mind is playing games with you. Smiling and joking with people that you know you love but were unable to connect with for quite a while now. Figuring out how to live a colorful life when all you have been seeing and feeling lately is fouling away in the same shade of gray.
All of this is immensely power-consuming, and an end is nowhere in sight. But keep your wits about you. The minute we stop looking for the way out, is the minute we stop being alive and start functioning solely.
© BLU 2022-05-19