Welcome to the next installment of our “More About Me” series. Today’s post is by Jillian Pankow, outreach specialist and assistant to Sandee Nebel.
“The beauty of you is not where you are imperfect. It is where you are fearless.” – Cleo Wade
As author, artist and poet Cleo Wade writes, beauty has little to do with perceived perfection OR imperfection and everything to do with actions – specifically acts of fearlessness and courage. The courage I am speaking of is not the ‘saving a baby’ kind of courage. It is the courage in remembering to take your vitamins because you deserve to take care of yourself. It is the courage to walk away from things that are no longer serving you. It is the courage to self-soothe and most importantly, the absolute courage that it takes to ask for help.
Asking for help can be so incredibly hard. I know this from my own experience. In high school, I began experiencing anxiety attacks, which quickly turned into a cycle of panic attacks. I felt as though the panic was never going to let me be myself again. Then one day I reluctantly agreed to seek professional counseling from a licensed mental health counselor to learn tools for coping with the panic and my everyday stressors.
This was the single-most scary and life-changing decision I have ever made in my life. In the midst of struggle, I worked up enough courage to sit with the discomfort, the stress and the panic. Even talking about it today makes me so proud to remember how hard that was for me at the age of 14. I had no idea what was wrong with me, why the panic was happening and continuing every single day, or how to make it stop.
I could not see an end in sight – until I sat on that couch in my first therapist’s office. To this day I still remember what it looked like: a big comfy couch, peaceful lighting from a beautiful floor lamp, and a big alarm clock on the brass bookshelf. I was so scared yet so courageous, and I didn’t even know it at the time.
I have since learned that asking for help is one of the highest forms of bravery. It is a fearlessness that speaks volumes; it says, “I am struggling and I am ready to confront this pain and tackle this battle.” It’s an act of bravery that says, “I know there is a better way of life than this and I am willing to figure it out.”
Seeing a therapist at any age can be daunting, as you will be thinking about all of the experiences that have shaped you, good and bad. Opening up and sitting with yourself, a therapist and your emotions – even the thought can be incredibly difficult. I have been there and I am so grateful that I have. Because of my own bravery to confront my panic, I have learned so many priceless lessons about myself and the world around me. Because of my own bravery I know, for a fact, how strong I really am.
Recognizing the need for help within yourself and asking for it is an act of fearlessness that I will always admire and see undeniable beauty in. I invite you to do the same.
As therapy has taught me to seek healing through art and written word I will share a message inspired by a Danielle Doby poem: Choose to be beautifully fearlessly brave and more importantly, always remember to choose yourself.