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The Best Anxiety Advice I Ever Received Was In A Canoe.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had anxiety. Ever since I was 18, I’ve had crippling anxiety.

It would leave me in bed for days holding my stomach; it would help me withdraw from the world. My anxiety affected my college career and relationships, and unfortunately, my anxiety almost made me want to give up. This past summer, though, I was presented with a way to truly handle my anxiety.

Anxiety, for me, has a lot to do with fear, but on that hot summer day, as my friend and I paddled downstream, he taught me that fear is not my enemy. He taught me that fear is no longer that monster that I have to battle each and every day. He taught me that I was no longer afraid. He taught me that I never truly fear the things I think I’m afraid of but rather I fear the feeling of fear in and of itself.

As he spoke such comforting yet profound words to me in our rented canoe, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I had that “aha moment.” I found a solace I never knew existed.

From the moment my friend uttered this life-changing theory to me, I felt as though I could overcome my worries. In fact, I felt as though I could push my actual worries aside because he taught me that those worries were never my issue.

In that canoe, he saved a part of my life.

Felicia Naoum

When you experience anxiety in that capacity that I have for over a decade, you exhaust all your options. You go to countless therapists, and while some give you great tokens of advice, others feel like you’re just talking to a helpless friend and you walk out of the counselor’s office feeling unheard. You read endless books and seek reassurance from trusted friends until you realize that reassurance will never save you.

So, when you stumble across a person, in this case, my friend, who passes wise words along from his grandmother, you thank God. Though his advice isn’t original — in fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt said it first — I was never truly aware of its power. I’m sure I’ve heard it before but, the phrase never truly connected with me. My friend broke it down in a way that I could wholly comprehend.

Who knew I was never truly afraid of all the things I thought I was afraid of? Who knew that I was so much stronger than I thought? Who knew that the answers I searched so long for relating to anxiety were in the hands of a soul who walked into my life not too long before offering me these golden nuggets of hope?

Some gifts are without measure. Some gifts are priceless. Some gifts will shape the rest of your life.

On a hot summer day in a canoe, I received a gift that did all of that and more. I received the gift of freedom from fear from a friend who was compassionate enough and genuine enough to offer it to me.

Thank God for Presidents who offer the world advice. And thank God for friends who care enough to share precious words that could indeed save you from the biggest monster in your closet — fear.