Updated: May 17
From my recollection, she has consistently appeared in my life like a reality check. Initially, she would arrive before every school exam, predicting my failure.
Then, she accompanied me to the gym, pointing out my weight and echoing every time someone called me "moti" (meaning "fat" in Hindi). She even surfaced whenever I stood on a weighing scale.
Regular visits continued when I was 17. I was preparing for my engineering entrance exams and unsure if it was the right path for me. She came because I felt suffocated by the demands of study hours, the pressure to excel, the need to secure admission into a prestigious college, and the sense of not fitting in.
She revisited me during my initial exams at engineering college. Once again, I felt inadequate and feared poor performance. Over the course of those four years, she frequently appeared but eventually disappeared for a while, giving me hope that she was gone for good.
However, she returned approximately three years later when I was pursuing my MBA. Despite academic success and a strong support system, she persisted. Before I slept, she would call and remind me of unfinished tasks, not because there were too many, but because I believed I wasn't capable enough. Every morning, she served as my wake-up call, reminding me of the multitude of tasks that needed completion, yet reinforcing my feelings of inadequacy.
Fast forward to December 2016 when I was moving to the USA. She incessantly spoke, asserting her authority over every thought in my mind. She constantly reminded me of my perceived inability to survive in a new place, predicting that I would become the subject of failure and gossip. Despite the eight pages of meticulously written "to-do" lists and preparations, she insisted it would never be enough.
As my wedding week approached, I felt prepared for any imaginable scenario or catastrophe. However, she persistently reminded me of potential mishaps. I was so excessively prepared that I bought three pairs of sandals in case the other six pairs broke. It was a nightmarish experience.
She fails to cease her presence, calling me whenever I plan a trip or attempt a new recipe. The list of instances is endless. Although her conversations have begun to affect me less, or so I believe, some days she manages to penetrate deeply.
And then, the pandemic struck. It has been challenging—my own health has never been a major concern, but the worry for my family and friends is overwhelming. I am uncertain when I will be able to see my parents again or travel to India. I am uncertain about meeting work expectations and disinfecting every surface, every piece of grocery, vegetable, fruit, and everything else.
Wait, am I merely venting, or is she provoking these rants?
Now, it seems she has become a part of me, at least that's how it feels.
I hope that isn't the case.
But I can sense her presence more prominently than ever before.
She has become ingrained in my being, always striving to be one step ahead. I am constantly planning, always prepared with my contingency plans B, C, and D, waiting to be implemented. Throughout the years, I have discovered ways to avoid her, some successful and others not so much. Unfortunately, these past few months have been marked by the latter. I understand she will never truly vanish; although I hope she will depart from my life, I know she won't.
She is both my friend and my adversary—Anxiety. I have come to realize that I have been an anxious person for a significant period, even if I didn't fully recognize it. She has contributed to my personal growth, aiding in self-understanding, but she has also made me hyperaware of everything around me.
On one hand, she has instilled a sense of meticulous planning within me. However, she is also the culprit behind that peculiar chill that occasionally engulfs me.