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Friendship Inspirational Coming of Age

Anna was 7 years old when she experienced her first panic attack. The day it happened was the day of her first class presentation, and though it is normal for everyone to be nervous before publicly speaking, it was however unusual when the young child began hyperventilating during her recess. She didn’t know what was happening, why she couldn’t catch her breath, which caused her to fall further into her veil of panic. It wasn’t until after she vaguely heard the bell ring that her teacher noticed the frightened child huddled in a corner under the yellow slides, and quickly worked at calming her down with a technique Anna would later identify as the ‘5-4-3-2-1’ exercise; which consisted of  naming off 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and finally 1 thing you can taste. 

She was excused to return home early that day, as the teacher was worried she may have another ‘panic attack’, as the kind educator had explained to both the child and parents. She rode home in their SUV, with rock music faintly being heard playing from the speakers. Her parents were quietly conversing in the front seats, but Anna wasn’t listening to their conversation as she quickly found that watching as the power lines bobbed up and down outside the window was far more entertaining than their chatter. 

As she arrived home the young girl carried on about her usual routine, including finishing her extra credit papers and then some kind of fun activity. She usually spent her free time tidying something or doing some sort of craft in her room, which she found both to be entertaining.

Throughout the next few years of her life she had continued having difficulties with her anxiety, which resulted in her visiting a combination of different psychiatrists and therapists who helped her deal with the worst parts of her anxiousness, providing exercises and schedules to improve her day to day life. They encouraged her to make goals to help her overcome her greatest problems with her condition, namely social anxiety. The thing she feared the most were public events, especially if it involved her needing to speak.

Anna was now 11 years old, doing fairly well in school, she still struggled but was making progress, which she was quite proud of herself for. It was another year, as New Year’s day had just passed recently; she had yet to think of the perfect resolution. While doodling at her desk she thought of a few ideas but still she felt that there was another that would provide the most benefits for her health. 

It was a few hours later that she had finally thought of a resolution that she believed would push her out of her comfort zone enough for her to feel she made progress, but enough so that she wasn’t horribly uncomfortable. Anna decided that she would attend the next event her friends invited her to, as long as someone she knew was there. She wanted to be able to go out in public without feeling like everyone was watching her, she wanted to live a normal life without worrying what other people thought about her. So it might help if she taught herself that she didn’t need to be afraid, and this would help her do that. 

Anna proceeded to roll her chair away from her small drawing desk and lift herself off of the cushioned seat, causing the aged springs to squeak in protest. As the young girl walked across the chestnut flooring of her bedroom, she noticed she had yet to make her bed today, so she then changed her course from the room’s exit to the rumpled sheets atop the twin sized bed in the corner. As she straightened the blankets she made sure to fluff the pillow extra well, as she had forgotten to do so the day before. Completing the simple task she then went back to making her exit from the cozy room. 

She walked down the carpeted steps to greet her mom in the kitchen, (her dad was at work this time of day) and tell her about the new resolution she came up with. Strolling into the kitchen, Anna first observed the room, seeing her mom sitting on the stool next to the island, some assortment of papers on the counter, some dishes waiting to be washed in the sink, miniscule items that she noticed scattered about the room. 

Before she even had the chance to open her mouth, her mom started speaking.

“Hey, Anna! Your friend, May, wanted to know if you wanted to come to a tea party she’s hosting with your friends tomorrow?” Her mom said in an excited and almost hopeful tone while looking at her. Anna stood frozen in thought for a moment. Yes, she had said that she would go to the next event, but she did not think that it would be so soon. She quickly tries to compose herself in favor of providing an answer.

“Uh-I-I’ll go t-think about it then, I guess,” She manages to stutter out and a meek voice and pretty much speed walks all the way back up the stairs and into her room. Her mother did not actually expect this answer, for she had grown quite accustomed to Anna simply saying something along the lines of ‘no’ or ‘no thank you’ when it came to social outings. Anna’s mom simply sat there a moment, trying to decide if there was anything she should do, but figured she should just let the girl do as she said and think about what she wanted.

As Anna quickly made her way up the steps, skipping a few, she began thinking.

‘Should I go? I said I would, but I literally just made that decision like–5 minutes ago!’ she thinks to herself while flopping down onto her bed, the freshly made bedding getting wrinkled in the process. She just stared at the ceiling above, admiring the few cracks that had been creating over time. As much as a decision such as this one should be quite a simple one for most people, this was yet another thing that made Anna different from the majority. 

She found that the thought of going made her anxious and stressed, but the thought of not going made her sad and disappointed in herself somehow. She was afraid of what other people might think of her at this party, what events that could happen that she couldn’t be prepared for. There was so much room for error in her mind. But on the other hand, if she didn’t go, she would be disappointed for backing out of her promise so quickly after making it! 

She stewed over the issue in her brain, going back and forth on what could go wrong, but finally came to a decision. She made her way back down the steps leading to the first floor, and slowly crept to where her mother was still on the chair, scrolling on her phone probably looking through Facebook or something. She made her way around the corner, her hands fidgeting together and her eyes settling on the floor, gaining her courage to make her final decision set in stone. She stopped in the middle of the kitchen, looked up at her mom, and squared her shoulders to make her look more sure of herself than she actually was.

“Yes.” She said, gaining a slight look of confusion, “Yes. I…I will go to the tea party tomorrow,” She clarifies as a final thought.

“That’s wonderful darling! I’m so proud of you,” Her mother says while rising from her seat to give her a hug. As she hugged her mother, she had a thought to ask about the details of said event.

“What time will May be having the tea party?” she asks while still in her kind mom’s embrace.

“Around 2pm I believe. Would you like to make some cookies for May and your friends?” She asks while unwrapping herself from the spontaneous hug. 

“Definitely! Lets see…May likes sugar cookies, Travis likes chocolate chip, Kali likes butterscotch, I think Sophia also likes chocolate chip, and Katelyn likes-,” as she excitedly raddled off the names of all her friends and their desired cookies, her mother got to work with retrieving the recipes, ingredients, and the appliances necessary for a mass amount of sweet making. 

As the mother and daughter duo baked the pastries well into night time, her father came home. He was also quite proud of Anna for deciding on her own to go out of her comfort zone and try new things, which received Anna another bone crushing hug. 

The next day, when Anna awoke, she was very excited. She quickly got changed into a lovely dress, it was white with lace and bits of satin on the edges, with it reaching down to her shins; she also had a matching hair ribbon which her mom helped do her hair with. As she ate her breakfast: pancakes, eggs and toast, she was still very excited; though she was feeling a little like she had butterflies in her stomach, she was overall doing fairly well. But as it finally came time to leave for the tea party, she was an absolute nervous wreck. She wanted to go so badly though! She noticed that this always seemed to happen; at every event she was meant to attend she always backed out at the last second because her nerves got too bad. But this time, she was gonna push through!  At last Anna wasn’t going to live her life by her anxiety. She was putting an end to this.  She took a deep breath, and stepped into the SUV. It was the same car that she had rode home in after her first panic attack, and now she felt she was fighting back against how she was forced to live, how she would be afraid to go to the store with her parents, how most days she was terrified to go to school. She was finally gonna win this one.

Her mother packed the ungodly amount of cookies they had made into the back seat next to where she was sitting, and hopped into the driver's seat. 

“Ya ready?” the parent asked kindly.

”Yup!” Anna replied after taking a quick glance toward the pastries to be sure they grabbed all of them. 

It was a little before 2 o’clock when they arrived, May and a few of her and Anna’s friends greeting them as she stepped out of the vehicle nervously. Her mom quickly ushered her off to go play while she unloaded the treats.

Throughout Anna’s time there she was initially extremely anxious, she didn’t really know why, but further into some games of hide ‘n go seek, and tag she began to relax in the company of her friends and the few kids that she didn’t know. It eventually came time to enjoy their tea and the cookies and other treats that had been brought, and by that time all her nerves were settled. She had more fun that she could have imagined! 

Anna knows that she can never fully get over her anxieties, but here was a start. To Anna this was her new beginning, her key to a better and happier life, where she could interact with the world around her without the fear of simply talking to someone. This was it.

January 15, 2022 02:35

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18:42 Jan 22, 2022

Great story! I love how she eventually starts to overcome her fear.

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