Anxiety is a natural response to certain situations. Social anxiety is an evolutionary response. Belonging to, and being accepted by, a group was the difference between death and survival. Humans are social beings meant to be part of a community.
People who have anxiety disorders have natural anxiety on a large-scale. It doesn’t shut off. While there are not a whole ton of things that make having anxiety great, there are a few things that it teaches us.
I know that it can be hard to have friends with anxiety. There are a lot of little things and limitations you have to be aware of and sensitive to, and it can be frustrating. But anxiety can teach those who suffer from it and can give them different perspectives. One of those things is how to be a good friend.
Sure, people with anxiety have all different types of personalities and character traits. But in general, our anxiety makes us alert to certain things and these can benefit those who are around us.
So, this Mental Health Week, here are 14 awesome things that make people with anxiety great friends to have.
We love really hard.
This thought is perfectly summed up by this Jane Austen quote: “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” We don’t always have a ton of friends. But the friends we do have, we invest in.
We are fiercely loyal.
Anxiety is meant to alert us to danger and keep us safe from it. We not only want to keep ourselves safe, but we will do anything to protect the people we love.
We are compassionate and empathetic.
People with anxiety are hypersensitive. This doesn’t just apply to our own thoughts and feelings. When we see the ones we love hurting, it hurts us too. Because we’re so sensitive, we see your pain, we feel it with you, and we will be there for you.
We are considerate.
We spend a lot of time in our own heads, going over the things that cause us anxiety; we are sensitive and aware of what we are doing. Consequently, we’ll often go out of our way to make others feel comfortable. To make sure their needs are met–because we know how painful it can be when they are not.
We are dependable.
We know how annoying (and for us, scary) it is when people don’t do what they say they’re going to do, or don’t show up when they say they’re going to show up. We may not always be up to hanging out, but if we say we’re going to do something, we do it.
We’ll do the worrying, so you don’t have to.
Don’t worry, I have a plan B, C, D, E and F.
We often come prepared for anything.
Need water? Sunblock? Lipstick? A sweater? A book? We think ahead about all the possible outcomes. The unknown frightens us so we like to make sure we have all our bases covered.
We know how to appreciate and celebrate the good.
We spend a lot of time thinking about how everything can go horribly, horribly wrong. When it doesn’t, we’re surprised, grateful, and super appreciative.
We have more fun.
Just like the previous point, we spend a lot of time thinking things will be worse than they are. We may dread that party that’s coming up, but when we get there and realize it’s not that bad, we have the best time–because we’re surprised by it. That surprise can even help us let go a little and get out of our own heads.
We can communicate our feelings.
This one isn’t always a given. But when we’ve been dealing with our anxiety for a while, we know what triggers us and know that people aren’t mind readers. Sometimes we need to tell them how we’re feeling and why we feel that way. This can lead to a great openness of communication that’s really valuable in relationships.
We can be vulnerable. We’re human and you know it.
It may not always be obvious when we’re feeling anxious, but it often is. When we own it, this ability to show our vulnerable side can make those around us more comfortable and willing to open up.
We’re listeners and we’ll validate you.
Sometimes, we just don’t feel like talking or maybe we are too anxious to. But we know that being heard is really important. We will lend you our ears, and we’ll verbalize our support of you. Because we’re constantly doubting, we know that sometimes hearing things out loud is what you need. We’ll listen attentively and validate you.
Some of the weird shit we do can be entertaining.
Our weird habits, our need to state or restate the obvious, our quirks and ticks, and little things we do to stay sane–some of them are weird and can be amusing.
We probably won’t get murdered.
We’re hyper-vigilant and spend a lot of time pondering worst-case scenarios. Because of this, we’re often overly cautious. So bro, we know how to stay sexy and not get murdered (usually).
Don’t be afraid to have anxious friends. We’re actually the best.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.