This was a draft I began writing in August 2014. I am not sure why I didn't get to finish this. I am publishing this now with some thoughts I've added, four years later.
Today I had an anxiety attack.
It wasn't the first, nor the worst, but it crept from behind and surprised me. I was having a pretty good day when it suddenly appeared. I was in the middle of a meeting when it popped out, almost paralyzing me.
One of the lessons I've been having a lot of difficulty mastering is learning how to drown out one's own voice, or in my case voices. I won't even dare claim to suffer any mental illness of some sort, since that would be offensive to anyone who's truly suffering from a mental disease, but I think that any regular person would know how it feels to have a multitude of voices in their head contradicting each other, fighting with each other.
We are barraged by nagging doubts, fears, and hesitations on a constant basis: the fear that we're incapable. Our doubts that we'll never be good enough. The paralyzing hesitation to act on something because the idea overwhelms you. It seems you (and the world) will never run out of things to make you apologize for.
And perhaps there is reason to say sorry for a lot of things. In hindsight, a lot of tremendously stupid mistakes are done haphazardly, by people who fail to assess the situation properly and calculate the risks involved. But the thing is, and what we can never avoid is that, there's always a risk involved in every decision-making process.
They say that regret over the things that were not done is far worse than going ahead and doing things. I say, it's not always the case. Apologies cannot make up for the irreversibility of an act already done.
Maybe this anxiety is simply the realization that I would always be limited. I could only form decisions from a myopic point of view. My experiences cannot fully account for the breadth and depth of the collective human experience. Much as I try to empathize (and believe me, I try so hard to do so), I will always have blind spots.
The more we assume leadership over certain things, the more we fear that we will make a mistake. And frankly, yes, I think we should be more afraid. Maybe a nourishing fear is necessary, so that we don't create more harm than good.
Maybe we should be more careful, more rigorous, more sensitive.
As much as we are our own cheerleaders, we should also be our great critics (Much like one of the core values we uphold in Taxumo: healthy discontentment.)
Four years since I started this post, I still feel anxious, every now and then. I am slowly growing to embrace that, and finding the balance I need--now, even more importantly so, as I add another year in my life.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.