BY ABBY WATERHOUSE

She walked through the hallway with determination in her eyes, courage through her spine, and a smile that told the world she was thriving. That’s what they saw at least. That’s what they told her they saw. Her demeanor told them all that her life was perfect. But little did they know that with every confident stride she took, thoughts came rushing in, forcing her to question if her boot could hit the tile once more without her falling apart. Wondering if the cruel eyes of others would notice the gloss in hers. or if she was walking the right way. Talking too much, but then never enough. They all saw her continue on, but the thoughts didn’t cease. What they didn’t see were the judgemental words ever so easily tossed through the air in her house causing her to ponder where she really belonged. The thoughts raced on when she looked into the mirror as her fingers ran through her hair not knowing if it looked good enough, or as the river flowed from the corner of her eyes, she couldn’t stop thinking about how small they were compared to her nose. They didn’t know that she lived in a society where people engrained in her mind that she was never good enough. The thoughts wander.

5:30 in the morning her alarm shoots it’s beep through her room like a dart cutting through the crisp air towards the bullseye. The noise grows louder reminding her that she is the bullseye and has been hit by the beep that begins her day. The minute she springs out of bed to make another attempt at perfect she is reminded of the word that has come to define her. Anxiety. The villain disguised as the hero who follows her endlessly and plays with her every action. The villain who wanders, who multiplies, who attacks. A normal life has become unachievable as everything regular in someone else’s life escalates to panic in hers. She walks down the hall as the cold creeps through her foot so that she will move faster to make it on time for school. She stubs her toe. Her mom says she stubs her toe on the stairs, but she knows she stubbed her toe on anxiety. If she stubs her toe, what if it hurts forever? And if it hurts forever how can she dance? And if she can’t move her body through the stage in a fluid movement then how can she perform? If she can’t perform, where will she go to college? Has she destroyed her career? If she destroyed her career then surely she’s destroyed her life. Then again, what does life even mean? She stubbed her toe on anxiety. The villain who wanders. Her day has only started, and yet anxiety sneaks into her every move. Her fearless shadow that beacons panic in what is supposed to be okay. She gets on the bus and sits next to anxiety, she drops her pencil, and anxiety picks it up. She even talks to anxiety in the mirror. Anxiety tells her she doesn’t look good today. Anxiety screams that her best isn’t good enough and if her best isn’t good enough, then she has failed, and if she has failed then she has forced pity upon herself. If pity is forced upon herself, then no one will like her. She has friends, but anxiety twists her thoughts in the mirror and whispers in one ear and out the other that no one will like her. She has friends, she hasn’t done anything, and they tell her they love her, but anxiety tells her she’s wrong and that nobody likes her.

She talks to the wandering monster, yet she has become the villain who excitedly follows herself around her mind. She has the wandering mind. She is the wandering mind, after all she stubbed her toe on anxiety. Her story is mine, and the thoughts continue to wander.


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