Anxious. Excited. anxiousexcited

My body reacts predictably every single time I have a lot of attention on me. My pulse quickens, my foot jiggles, my chest tightens, and I get increasingly sweaty. Like, even behind my knees. I would rather be anywhere but in my own skin and try to retreat into my brain, but the situation there is just as dire. This unavoidable pattern happens every single time I feel scrutiny.

I never over thought it before because inevitably, I could always force myself to armor up, get started, find a rhythm, and brown the whole thing out. 

Yeah, I said brown out. Like, not a full blackout because bits and pieces are still there. They laughed at something I said! I can’t REMEMBER what I said, but I remember the laugh!

The physical sensations that come along with the attention honestly suck. Nobody likes sweating their face off right before going in front of an audience. I hate the mental loop. “What do they think? Do they like what I’m doing? I just stumbled on my words. Did they notice?”

I perform a LOT.

I’ve always auditioned for the play, went for the solo, given the speech. A large audience isn’t a prerequisite to prompt the performing. Even something as simple as meeting someone new brings up those same uncomfortable physical sensations. My body gets hijacked, my extrovert self takes center stage, we “fake it till we make it,” and… showtime

I tried something different the last time I was in the spotlight. This time, I took a deep breath, cast aside my toxic “fake it till you make it” armor, and started talking about my real feelings. I admitted to 100+ of my colleagues that every time I stand in front of them, I feel anxious.

I then shared how anxiety presents itself in my body and disclosed some game changing information I read from Dr. Brené Brown’s newest book Atlas of the Heart. Those uncomfortable symptoms that anxiety hijacks our bodies with? Those are the same sensations in our bodies when we experience excitement. 

Read that again. Anxiety and excitement feel exactly the same in our bodies. The difference is mindset and how we interpret those feelings. 

According to Dr. Brown, when we label these sensations as anxiety, we are more likely to have negative experiences. If we flip our mindset and reframe it as excitement, a positive overall experience is more likely to follow. 

I don’t know about y’all, but if I’m going to be saddled with sweaty pits and a skyrocketing heart rate, I might as well try to get excited about whatever is coming next. I have zero control over my sweat glands, but I CAN disrupt old thought patterns and control my mindset. 

I shared Dr. Brown’s emotions research with my colleagues and communicated that I was doing my best to reframe my anxiety as excitement. I’m no expert, but the accompanying nods of “me too, same” were reassuring. I made it through the presentation without faking it, and sat down afterward feeling damn good.

I want to keep showing up for myself and people in my life this way. I want to recognize the early stages of this bodily response coming on, stop that downward spiral, and pause…

 “Does this have to be anxiety? Or can I self talk my way into getting excited about this instead?”

And even if I only succeed some of the time, hopefully the people around me are picking up a little more excitement from me and a little less anxiety.

My life is unraveling at 30

Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

Brené Brown, “The Midlife Unraveling”

The tumultuous weeks leading up to my 30th birthday left me feeling uneasy. This arbitrary year, this closing of my twenties, had me tense and restless. 

Well-meaning friends and family blanketed me with platitudes like “age is just a number!” and “you’re only as old as you feel!” and “ just wait until you hit forty!”

But still, I remained uneasy. 

And I remained that way until I did the bravest, scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had the courage to ask myself,

“Who am I really, and who do I want to be?”

And then I faced the ugly reality that at thirty years old, I had absolutely no idea who I was or what my values were. I was in complete survival mode, just trying to make it through this day, this week, this month. I didn’t have the language to express what I was feeling, and even if I did, I would’ve been too chicken shit to speak it. I couldn’t articulate who I was outside of the ways I served others: mother, wife, teacher, friend, daughter. And each of those people got a different version of Bobbi, too. 

I felt so damn lost.

So I started journaling, going to individual therapy, reading self-help books, listening to podcasts, and now my life is unraveling. It’s painful, beautiful, messy, but unearthing who I really am underneath societal conditioning, people-pleasing behaviors, and codependency has been the most profoundly satisfying work I’ve ever done.

I have come to the conclusion that fear has been holding me back from knowing who I am and what I want.

Fear of being seen as selfish, of being judged. Fear of not living up to people’s expectations or letting others down. Fear of failure, fear of not being worthy, fear that if people saw the real, true me, they’d reject me. 

The biggest comfort in this journey has been exposing my fears and shame to the light of day. By writing my ugliest truths into existence and then sharing them with trusted people also doing their own inner work, I’ve experienced some serious healing. I am not unique in the struggle. I am not alone.

Those books I read, those podcasts I listened to, were all testimonials of other women who looked fear in the face and said, “I see you. I see what you’re trying to do. But I’m done letting you stop me, and I’m going to tell my story anyways.” Through their words and bravery, they charted road maps to find themselves and gave me the courage to start doing the same. 

So as I approach my 31st birthday, I’m going to be incredibly vulnerable with you and share my biggest, wildest dream:

I want to be a published writer. 

Even typing that, I let out an audible breath I didn’t know I was holding. Putting this dream out there in the world is absolutely terrifying. It’s the fear, man. 

The fear that you’re judging my very first blog post, that you’re laughing under your breath and thinking “good luck, she’ll never make it.” The fear that my writing is mediocre at best. That there are a million other people who are better than me. I’m afraid nobody will read my work.

Or that I’m not original enough.

Or creative enough.

That I’m not enough

And Bobbi in her twenties? She saw that fear miles down the road and wouldn’t even admit to herself that this was a real dream she had. 

Bobbi in her thirties, though? She calls bullshit. 

So to you, my friends, family, colleagues, and all of the wonderful humans who have somehow played an interlude in my life, I want to paint what support from you looks like while I give myself permission to follow my dream of writing for an audience outside of my Facebook feed. 

Read my posts, and if they resonate, comment or like. Share them. Follow me on insta. Send me ideas for topics you’d like to read about.

I saved you a seat next to me on the back of the struggle bus. Let’s grow together.