As long as I can remember, I dreamt of achieving big things. As a kid, I wanted to become a race pilot and beat all records, or the first astronaut to visit different planets. One Christmas, I got a telescope and I spent my nights looking at the moon and stars, knowing the names of all the visible constellations. Another year, I received a microscope and spent all winter examining whatever I could find. I even let food rot, just because I wanted to examine the fungus.
Those interests never disappeared – honestly, part of me still wants to be an astronaut, a successful scientist or a Formula 1 pilot – but as I grew older, and became more aware of what else was out there, I started dreaming of other achievements. When I was 16 or 17, I was determined to become a successful computer scientist. And so I went to university to study design and technology and moved across Europe to get better opportunities in the tech world.
And as more become possible with technology, I become even more excited and determined to do big things with it. I’m currently working as a technologist at a big agency. And during my spare time, I made my own app that analyses the weather forecast for asthma patients like me and shows when and how the weather might influence our asthma.
I’d say I’m pretty good at doing my job, and I know I will continue to grow and achieve even bigger things. I just know it. Because I know myself, the fire inside of me, and my skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
Having anxiety doesn’t make things easier, but it doesn’t make things impossible either.
Does having anxiety make me feel irrationally scared to get fired? Yes. Does it make me feel defeated when I can’t solve a specific problem immediately? Yes. Does it make me feel anxious at company parties? Yes. Does it make me fee scared to make mistakes? Yes. Does it make me think that I’m not good enough, no matter what others say? Hell yes.
But it doesn’t prevent me from coming up with creative or innovative ideas, it doesn’t prevent me from speaking up when I don’t agree with a specific solution. And it doesn’t prevent me from solving problems, going to company parties, attending conferences, improving my code, asking for help or anything else. It doesn’t make me less good at my job.
Because my anxiety is just one part of me. It’s something that will always be with me, just like I’ll always have asthma, but it’s not who I am. I am more than just my anxiety or my asthma. I’m also someone with a strong desire of achieving greatness, with big dreams and big goals. I’m creative, persistent, strong, open-minded, motivated and honest. And I’m good at what I do.
My anxiety will never prevent me from being successful.
And because of all of these things, my anxiety will never prevent me from being successful. I’ve been through a lot, and all of it has just made me more determined to prove myself and the world that I can realize all my dreams. That determination is what has made me start therapy, what makes me get up in the morning even when things are hard, what motivates me to use all the tools I have to make my anxiety as manageable as possible.
And I hope that neither I, nor anyone else suffering from a mental illness, will have to give up on their dreams or career because of the stigma surrounding their illness. As someone who suffers from both anxiety and asthma, I can tell you that both are very similar. They are invisible, they’re always here, they’re making life harder, but they’re not making life impossible, and they’re manageable. Whatever we’re suffering from, it’s part of who we are, but it’s not all we are.
💻 Mental Health × Work 💻
Mental health can have a big influence on one’s life, and especially on their work life and career. And at the same time, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, which can make talking about it at work harder or even impossible. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With my “Mental Health × Work” series, I want to have an open conversation about mental health in relation to the work culture, share tips for employees and employers, reduce stigma and share personal experiences and motivational stories. If there’s anything you want to see here, or if you have any critiques or suggestions, feel free to send me a mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).