I recently came across a woman who had been in my class at high school 25 years ago. We had barely spoken back then - she was part of a high achieving, 'ideal' group of girls. Now we were two 'normal' mums chatting away. We came to talk about the school years I opened up to her and confessed at how 'different' I felt in school, being one of few girls in the grade of Lebanese background; how I felt that I stood out – big hair, foreign food, and general family life and wished at that age, to be an Aussie, like herself, as it looked so easy and 'normal’ to me.
She seemed genuinely shocked and confessed her own insecurities, how 'different' she had felt in school amongst her friends, and how she yearned to be like 'us' because we looked happy, confident and pretty… with our exotic features and food.
I walked away thinking...it is such a shame that I wasted my years at school, suffering - not accepting of my 'difference' and wishing myself any other way. Never did I realise my full potential whilst I had olives in my lunchbox. It also showed me that we suffer the same way, regardless of background. It doesn't end in school, does it?
The most common thread I hear, when it comes to chatting to sufferers of anxiety and depression, is how ‘different’ they feel, that there is something wrong with them and they wish they could be like everyone else. Growing up feeling that difference in a sense of cultural divide is a huge driving force of those illnesses, and sets the tone of helplessness.
Until we are ok with ourselves regardless of what is happening with us or what our background, we will continue to be our own enemy. Is it any wonder that we have an anxiety epidemic?