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Hartselle Enquirer

Hidden with a smile

dear friend of mine told me not too long ago that I hurt her feelings. It wasn’t that I did something wrong or that I even knew I had hurt her, but the way I had handled something made her feel inferior.

The incident happened some time ago, but she hadn’t addressed it. Instead, she decided to push our friendship to the side as the solution.

Many of us have experienced this same scenario, but maybe with different details. When we were wronged, instead of communicating the pain, we’ve let it bottle up to a point of harboring unforgiveness.

As we discussed the miscommunication, I quickly saw myself in her.

I saw fear, pre-judgment, hurt, distrust, but most of all, anxiety. Those characteristics are so easily hidden with a smile on a picture and a sweet hash tag or quote to follow-these characteristics that can be written off with an assumed happy life, good career and a hobby or two. Those same characteristics that many have, but few will admit to having.

Anxiety comes in all shapes any sizes. Sometimes it comes as a fear of being in large crowds like you are being suffocated, or fear of being in a large crowd and no one even knowing that you’re there.

Another instance, anxiety can sneak up like doubt in your workplace, or a lack of confidence in your sport, hobby or career.

It can be shielded as distrust in your friendship or the faithfulness of your spouse in your relationship. It can sneak in as being overly emotional for no reason or emotion-less when the time calls for laughter or tears.

Anxiety can be your reason to push away friends, compare yourselves to the highlight reels you see on social media; it can be the cold turkey stop on your routine of health and fitness.

Anxiety can be the culprit of thoughts of failing in a new opportunity, job or dating venture. It can also be a crutch to stop seeking knowledge or growing a deeper in a relationship with Jesus.

It can also grow into deeper things. It can create questions like, “Do I even matter? Does this job matter? Does this relationship matter?”

It can cause you to push things to the side that were once your priority.

Last, it can become darker and grow into depression and suicidal thoughts. It can leave you wondering if your presence or absence would make more of a difference.

Anxiety is simple yet complex. It can damage the strongest of people and it can weaken the most confident and accomplished. It’s not a sexist, raciest, or homophobic disorder. It fears no one, but can make anyone fear it.

If you see signs or symptoms of anxiety in someone close to you, provide them with help, and if you cannot help, notify someone who can.

Treat people as if they are at the end of their rope, every single day. The best thing you can be is kind.

George Washington Carver said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

Lauren Estes is a staff writer for the Hartselle Enquirer.