For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with anxiety. As a child, I had severe separation anxiety; it has never quite gone away. In my adult years, I have always had general anxiety. My anxiety holds me back from going to the gym, going on walks at the park, doing anything in public by myself — pretty much everything I should be doing, I can't. My boyfriend has always been extremely supportive and pushes me to become my best self, but he always has to do activities with me because I am so afraid to do them alone. He finally said to me, "You know, I may not always be around to do things with you." And that really struck me. What am I going to do when I'm by myself and I need to run errands? What am I supposed to do when I really want to hit the gym and he is at work? His simple sentence really made me want to get my life back.
My best friend started her journey to self-discovery and empowerment in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She has told me for so long how confident she is since starting BJJ. I was always slightly jealous of her because I love stuff like that; my brother and I would always wrestle as kids and had a blast doing it. I looked around my area and I couldn't find any (reputable) BJJ gyms around, but I did find an Aikido Dojo. Now, let me be the first to say, I have absolutely NO idea what Aikido is or if it's something I will enjoy. My first class is in two days and I am absolutely TERRIFIED. For the past week I have been up all night thinking of excuses to not go: What if I'm the only woman there? What if they laugh at me because I'm new to martial arts? What if I do something embarrassing? What if I end up loving this but can't afford it? What if I get hurt? What if my boyfriend gets hurt? So many what-ifs that are likely not even going to happen... I even asked my boyfriend, "Do you think I should even do this?" Bless his soul, he is forcing me to go and is willing to come to classes with me until I am comfortable. I may hate this experience, and I may never want to do Aikido again in my life, but taking steps to take my life back from anxiety is so important to me. This may be the best thing to ever happen to me. Aikido claims to be a martial art that focuses on helping students become better mentally, become more enlightened spiritually, learn to focus on their surroundings, and provide students with tools to be able to protect themselves in different situations. I am hoping this experience gives me the confidence to go out in public, go to the gym, walk at the park, whatever I want to do — by myself. Maybe Aikido isn't for me, but I am hoping this opens the door to new possibilities and going out of my comfort zone to take my life back and be in control.