This will be probably the hardest post I’ve written ever. Sharing your truths is a very hard thing to do, which is why I haven’t been able to keep up with this blog as much as I would like. The people who have reached out and told me they related and praised my bravery have helped me immensely, but at the same time I haven’t been so brave.
I’ve been sharing half truths with everyone this whole time. Yes, I do have crippling anxiety… but the other thing that I’ve been too afraid to share online is that I also have a substance abuse problem.
Sometimes I think people who know me do not take my anxiety seriously. They view it as solely an addiction problem… but like what came first the chicken or the egg?
I started drinking to ease my social anxiety. I never really even parted in high school and was mostly well liked, but when I got the college I didn’t quite know how to fit in. I went to a private college with mostly locals from an area COMPLETELY different from where I grew up. I was a competitive runner so I didn’t always drink as much as the other kids on campus, but when I did I would binge and binge hard. The binging would often lead to situations that got me so embarrassed that my already anxiety ridden self couldn’t handle it properly… but the incidences were isolated and by the next binge I’d always forget it.
I combatted my anxieties in college by being a perfectionist. I HAD to be skinny, HAD to be the fastest in my cross country teams, HAD to be the most creative in my art classes and HAD to be well liked. I put so much pressure on myself to be all of those things but I don’t think I was truly ever one of them. By the end of undergrad I was severely underweight… cracking under pressure at my biggest athletic meets and pretending I was this artist I simply was not. In fact I don’t even practice photography to this day. Part of it is because I never truly gained a confidence in myself and another part is I truly believe it never was my passion.
Which brings me to graduate school. If photography was truly never my passion why did I go for a MFA?!?!?!? I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment and at the time I had started grad school I was still running (literally) down my path of perfectionism. Despite my binging and several downfalls in undergrad I ultimately came out of the experience extremely accomplished. I came out of Grad school extremely accomplished too… but at a much higher price.
I was much younger than most my peers in grad school (there’s a reason people tell you to wait to figure out what you really want to do peeps!) and honestly looking back at it I just wasn’t as into the art world as everyone else. What I was into however were the gallery openings with unlimited wine, drinking with professors being a regular occurrence (even during class) and still feeling like I was pursuing something that was going to help me in the future. Spoiler alert… I’m not so sure it did.
If you’re extremely insecure with a drinking problem I do not suggest getting a masters in fine art… just saying. The constant critiquing and doubting took its toll on me but I always thought it had a purpose.
After I couldn’t get out of my binging habits after graduation, after I realized I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself, after floundering to get jobs and loosing the ones I have got and after a lot of self reflection… I’ve realized I’m where I am at not only because of anxiety but also because of drinking.
I still don’t know what came first but it truly hurts my soul thinking of how much this affliction has cost me. I am constantly trying to heal and self reflect but I am still struggling with the internal battle of being a perfectionist who threw so many of her accomplishments away.
Why is my biggest goal is to have my Linkden profile look impressive… when it really should be sobriety? I have lost so many friends so many opportunities but at the end of the day I know this too can be overcome. I am strong. And if I can be a perfectionist for something I my heart was never really that into… there’s no reason I can’t be for something that will literally save my life.