It’s a myth that people with anxiety can’t be extroverted… especially when it comes to anxiety wrought from trauma. Sure, it’s possible for some people, but it’s not the same for everyone.
Imagine an opera singer without anxiety. She is brave, strong willed, and has a powerful voice. She loves getting up on that stage in front of a theater packed with spectators. The thrill of all those eyes on her, gleaming with excitement. She sings out to the crowd and it’s the most exhilarating feelings an extrovert can experience. The admiration, the applause, and Adrenalin.
Now imagine that one day, while rehearsing alone in the theater, she’s surprised to find a spectator in the crowd. This itself is not alarming, but he’s not supposed to be there. He is crazy and something really bad happens. He hurts her on that stage. Her confidence is crushed and she needs time to heal.
After the body heals and the soul is willing, she faces that stage again. The stage where her blood once pooled and her strength was stripped away. Those emotions come flooding back and fear swells up inside her. What if he’s out there in the crowd? What if he’d been in the crowd all this time? What if I can’t sing through my shaking voice?
But she’s a strong willed and brave woman. She loved this stage and she wants it back. Perhaps now she double checks, or even triple checks the doors of the theater to make sure they are locked during rehearsals. Perhaps someone she trusts has to be there with her every time now. With all her strength and trembling hands, she takes to the stage. She looks back at that trusted someone backstage to make sure they are still there. She scans the crowd, looking at every face, to convince herself that he isn’t there.
Filled with fear and anxiety, she wavers in her opening song, creating a sense of embarrassment. She knows she’s better than this. There’s a sense of shame. There’s also a sense of defiance… she’s not going to allow him to hold this power over her. She continues to sing and her adoring crowd bellows out with love and support, building her confidence back up.
One day, you won’t be able to tell that anything happened. She’ll be on the stage pouring her soul into her song just as powerful – NAY! More powerful than she ever did before the attack. She will move the crowd with her voice and they will feel part of her soul. While she will once again find that exhilaration and passion for the stage that she longed her, she might also never be able to take the stage without the background flood of anxiety.
This is what it means to be a survivor. It’s taking back your stage but it’s also learning to live with scars beneath the surface. You can be an extrovert and love your stage while still experiencing a great amount of anxiety and passion at the same time.