It's a very easy word to say, isn't it? One syllable to stop everything.
I always thought of myself as a 'yes' person. Everyone perceives me as a happy, bubbly person who has always got a smile on her face. But to everyone's surprise - and mine too - I don't always feel like a confident, can do anything person. I sometimes find myself sitting in social situations feeling incredibly overwhelmed and lonely. I don't enjoy every moment. And this has made me hesitate to say yes to opportunities or even turn things down. Because it's so much easier to say no than sit there feeling like the world is going to implode.
I turn 23 on Monday and every year, I reflect on what I've achieved over the past year and think about how I can make the next 12 months even better. My recent realisation has made me realise that this year, I am going to say yes. Yes. Yes, without hesitation or thinking of consequences and what ifs.
The trigger for this realisation? Therapy.
To put it quite simply, I started seeing a counseller. I just spoke to someone and asked for help. But through just one hour a week talking to someone helped me discover so much about myself and my personality. It's made me become really inquisitive about my own thoughts and emotions. It's also given me a new found confidence in myself and kick-started a new journey in self-development.
I've suffered from anxiety for the past two years and I thought I had pretty much laid most of my symptoms to rest. I haven't had a panic attack in months and I feel pretty confident that I won't have another for a while. But something still wasn't right. If I was being completely honest with myself, I was scared of something, but I didn't really know what.
When I was on holiday in France with Dan earlier in the year, we went to a Michelin Star restaurant. I was so excited, but halfway through the meal, I started to feel really nauseous and like something bad was going to happen. I tried stepping outside for a bit, but I felt so overwhelmed that we ended up having to leave. Of course, I was even more upset by this point because I'd missed out on half of an amazing meal and felt like I'd ruined Dan's evening too.
It wasn't an isolated incident either. When I'm in social situations, even with people who I'm very close to, I can sometimes start to feel really uncomfortable and nauseous. Until now, I've not really thought about it preventing me from enjoying experiences. I just thought that was how it was always going to be, and I didn't really know where to start when it came to 'fixing' it. It was Dan that suggested I find someone to talk to and although I was a little reluctant at first, I am so grateful that he pushed me to go.
Talking therapy helped me to break down the emotions that I felt when I started to feel overwhelmed and turn them into 'bite-size' feelings that I could deal with individually. I was fighting the feelings of nausea and anxiousness with a lot of resentment and anger because I didn't want to feel that way, I wanted to be enjoying the moment. But by repressing my emotions and fighting them with anger, I was actually making it so much worse. If a child said they felt sick, you wouldn't shout at them to stop being silly, would you? I wasn't being kind to myself when I needed to be, and this meant I was getting myself into an unhealthy cycle of social anxiety that was having a much bigger impact than I realised and was leading to me hesitating, and sometimes saying no.
I realised I was scared of my anxiety. But I recognised that these periods of nauseousness were almost panic attacks manifesting themselves in a different way. It was making me shy away from things I was enjoying so I spoke to my counseller a lot about how I could cope with these feelings and actually, the answer ended up being fairly simple.
There was no proof I couldn't cope.
I've survived every panic attack I've had. Okay, they make me feel really awful, but I've got up the next morning. I've functioned (just). I've dealt with panic attacks on planes, I do things on my own all the time, I got through a really, really shit time in my life. I have no proof I can't cope.
So that's why I'm saying yes more.
Dress - ASOS; Shoes - ASOS
And do you know what? That simple tweak in my mindset has already made a world of difference.
I don't feel like my anxiety ever made me miss out on things, but I do feel like my fear of it stopped me from enjoying the moment and saying yes without fear and hesitation.
I'm seeing all the small steps I've taken recently as big achievements, even though to other people, they might not seem that great. I have a real thing about sleep, and getting enough of it, so if I make plans in the week, I always want to be back by 9pm, because I don't like feeling tired. But a few weeks ago, I went out for a meal with some blogger friends and I got so caught up having fun that I didn't even realise the time. It was so freeing not having to worry. I also got the chance to meet Raymond Blanc last night, which I initially said no to because I thought I'd be too tired but then I decided I absolutely should go and we had a really lovely evening.
I also went and spent an evening watching the World Cup semi-final in a huge crowd - something which initially, I would have passed on immediately. Despite the initial apprehension, I pushed past it and had a really good night. They might not seem like significant things to other people, but for me, being able to fully enjoy experiences again is absolutely wonderful and it's giving me a much more positive mindset.
I'm amazed at what a positive impact this slight change in mindset is having. Even though it's still small steps at the moment, I already feel much more positive about everything and the fear of anxiety is already starting to subside. By saying yes to help, I've said yes to lots more.
So, say yes. Yes without hesitation. Yes to all the opportunities. Yes to not feeling anxious. Yes to living in the moment. Yes, yes, yes.