Landisa: How growing up in small-town Ceres gave me life long anxiety

James de Villiers
James de Villiers

Can I let you in on a little secret? We are all just doing our best trying to survive. Do not be deceived, no one – no one – has life figured out. 

We are all, with our limited knowledge and perspectives, making decisions we honestly think are in our best interest. 

The woman who told me I'm destined for hell, and this breaks me inside, was honestly thinking that she was doing the right thing. 

We are all but empty vessels trying to fill the holes of hurt inside us with whatever takes the pain away. To some, a stranger in their bed takes the loneliness away, for others, a substance numbs the stinging pain of inferiority. And on Monday night, when I stared into my bathroom mirror, wishing for nothing greater than to just love myself, I wondered when I'd ever be happy with who I am. 

Our anxieties and insecurities, I've learnt, are not a disease. It is an age-old survival mechanism to try and protect humanity from the dangers that lie ahead. Anxiety ensured that our forefathers were vigilant when they walked alone in the dark, ready for whenever a wild animal might attack.  

Because I was shunned to the outskirts growing up, I've learnt to fear anything that comes close to me. But the boys in the schoolyard who punched me every morning before school too thought they were doing what was best. My internal survival mechanism grew to protect me from humanity, because humans always brought me so much pain. 

How do you reset years of conditioning to fear anyone or anything who dares come near? How do you wake up one day and simply take friendship for what it is?

My mind races every day. Everyday I'm trapped by overthinking, creating scenarios of what might happen, all in an age-old evolutionary survival mechanism. My fear of abandonment is so entrenched in who I am. I cannot imagine life without it. 

Oh, how great it must feel to not fear getting hurt or messing up; a toddler in their parents' garden exploring the mysteries life has to offer.  

Oh, what I would give for one moment where I felt accepted and secure. Oh God, will I ever experience that again?

Like all stories, not one is the same. No one – do not be deceived – has the answer. All of us are doing our damn best to survive. Excuse those who fall along the way, they are only learning. Have grace, because we are all so broken. 

Chin up, tomorrow another day arrives as the sun rises. Have grace, because you will make a mistake. 

Don't compare, because like the leaves falling from an oak tree, you are on your own journey.

Do you have a story to share? Send it to and include your contact details and a photo. Visit Landisa for more stories. 

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