On Learning…then Ultimately Facing Your Truths

Jen Xu
7 min readJul 10, 2018


I know a lot of truths about myself, such as the fact that I know such truths about myself, yet sometimes I choose to do nothing about them and suffer.

Here it is: I need to keep up with my positive self-talk and anxiety-soothing methods more often. Yes, I feel great when I’m not being challenged a lot, but you can’t really control when you do or do not get challenged in life. Do understand, there are a lot of ways to escape challenges — not facing reality, being scared to make mistakes or try anything new. But I don’t want to do that. So when life is going great, but a massive thing comes up and I have emotions and need to make decisions — I want to be in the right state of mind to make good decisions. Even if it’s not a great decision — it’s something, it’s probably better than doing nothing.

A lot of unexpected moments and situations have burst forth recently. Friendships are changing and I’m moving away for the better part of 2 years…unsure of when my next break will be. More than anything, a fear of the unknown gets to me. I don’t fear being hurt by someone because I’ve gone through that before (I might not like it, but I don’t fear it). I’m unsure of what kinds of people I’ll meet, I don’t know if I’m going to like my classes, I don’t know what sport I’ll be working with, I don’t know if I’m prepared to handle the stress of school and actually working as an athletic trainer. It doesn’t mean I won’t try, but that element of fear exists.

When the fear of the unknown creeps in, most of the time I’m not even aware of what I’m feeling. It’s this generalized feeling of anxiety that I can’t seem to identify. Sometimes I take those emotions out on those close to me — my parents, my sisters, my friends. To make matters worse, when my anxiety and emotions are heightened it makes it even harder to identify the true reasons I’m anxious.

In the same way, that fear I have motivates me to imagine good things happening. It can be easier, in a sense, to imagine average or even bad things happening, because then you won’t be disappointed by the results…but it’s much less enjoyable at the time, and I’ve realized I want to enjoy every moment that I’m living in. I don’t want to constantly look forward and wonder even though that is precisely where my anxious thoughts begin.

Tonight I was really struggling. My anxiety sometimes manifests itself physically… I get jittery, and I play on my phone 100x more frequently than normal. Sometimes I get a strange feeling in my chest, it’s not pain, but it shouldn’t be there. I don’t want it to be there! I know I’m afraid to be alone with my thoughts at times. It becomes obvious when I’m itching to get home and watch my TV show, with no one else around me, checking every app on my phone in order until I get some type of human interaction (I promise I’m not crazy, I’m just a little lonely!). It becomes obvious when I don’t want to be still for just a second. It becomes obvious when all I want to do is sleep to pass the time.

I was watching a movie, so I turned off all my lights and screens, put on my “reading music” playlist which is a mix of soft jazz, no words, and sleepy feelings…and then I set a timer for 5 minutes. I figured I’d start with just 5.

I began to speak to myself…well, whisper, since I’m not sure who’s home. I reassured myself that it’s okay to feel the way I do because I’m human, and it’s been awhile since I’ve been truly challenged emotionally (physically? I’ve been upping my intensity in the gym). I reminded myself that I’m about to encounter so many new things all at once in a few days. I told myself that I’m not being over-emotional (I analyze this by deciding if I’ve affected anyone around me negatively with my thoughts/actions).

After I told myself it was okay to feel that way, I felt some of the anxiety melting away. Then, I began to talk to myself about all the new and exciting things I was going to encounter in Utah! I’ll get to work with college athletes again, I’ll get to take classes I like…I’ll get to be around weather I like, I’ll meet new people, I’ll make new friends, I’ll get a whole bunch of brand new athletic facilities to explore! I’ll get to watch RSL play in person again, I’ll get to work with some great other members of the sports medicine team.

I didn’t rate these experiences as good or bad in my head. These were truths, or at least I can assume them for now without much fear. I’ll meet new people, that’s for sure! It doesn’t mean I’ll become best friends with all of them. I’ll get to watch RSL play again — but it doesn’t mean that we’ll win (but I believe in them!). I’ll get to do these things, but the actual outcomes, good or bad, are unknown. And that is okay because it meant I wasn’t lying to myself and that matters more to me than anything (honesty in general, not just me towards myself). They’re still unknown…but a little more known than before!

Whether you’re feeling extra arrogant or extremely negative towards yourself, the important thing is to come back to reality. That’s what I had to do today. For the first time in a very long time, I felt myself practicing my strategies that help alleviate (not necessarily fully remove) my anxious thoughts and my need for quick results. Just because you want something now, it doesn’t mean it’s the right time.

I’ve got experience with that, come on! It’s been a very long season of waiting. I feel as if I’ve been waiting all my life to head to graduate school. It was something I’ve wanted for over a year now, and it’s finally coming true. I remember just about a year ago, I sat outside on my porch, watching the sun set, and I spoke out loud to myself just as I did today, instilling confidence and pride in myself. Although I had no idea where I’d end up, I imagined going on interviews and answering questions. I never went on any interviews that I imagined, but all that practice set me up for success. Although I didn’t technically interview to where I’m headed for school — it feels absolutely right.

There have been a few things recently in my life that have made me a little bit sad about leaving. But I realized how preposterous that is. It’s okay to be sad, but I do NOT want to let that get in the way of realizing my goals! I don’t want to be an emotionless robot because I don’t believe in living life that way, but I want to be reasonable and happy for myself. Recently I texted a friend about the oodles of anxiety I felt about life situations, but he reminded me, “be excited about going back to Utah and the fact that, JEN, you’re in grad school! That was a big goal of yours and you’re accomplishing it and proving yourself!” I’ve gotten better at listening to people…so I listened to him and settled down for the time being.

It’s simple enough to learn your truths. Ok, maybe learning the lessons can take months or years, but I think the real test of resilience and belief in yourself is what you do with those lessons. You must face them or you won’t get stronger. You might have to face the fact, for example, that you get bad anxiety sometimes — I mean, the first step is acceptance, but what are you going to do now that you know? Sit on your butt and hope that the anxious thoughts go away? Nope, you’ve got to get off your butt and do something about it.

I was struggling to figure out why I haven’t written in awhile. If you look through all my published stories, I had way more in April and May when I was consistently learning lessons and wanting to think through tough situations. I realized I haven’t really been faced with too many tough decisions to make, and so I not only had “nothing” to write about…I simply didn’t feel a need to. Silly me.

Writing is a recently discovered tool that helps ease my anxiety. I’m terrible at being concise, but I like practicing it. I like writing things out and then going back to edit them shorter, all the while re-reading what I wrote and making sure this is how I actually feel. I like imagining that everyone in my life is going to read it, even if they’re not (I imagine it’s more common for a complete stranger to read this…maybe?). I like organizing my thoughts and attempting to make them flow. I like writing down my lessons. I like writing general statements about my experiences, because of course I’m not going to reveal everything, but I believe it also helps others relate a little more. And if this can help others even just a little, I like that.

I feared for awhile that I was writing the same things over and over again. I don’t want to do that. I would like to learn new things every day, if I can. That’s also a fear of being…stagnant, I guess. A very valid fear, but you also can’t force yourself to learn lessons you’re not yet ready for.

Basically, things take time and a lot of effort but the end result is often worth it. Oh, and if there isn’t the end result you wanted — at least you learned a lesson! Yes, it’s both a terribly painful and soothing way to look at things. But alas, what would life be without such emotions?

So learn things, but face them. Attack them head on. You’ll be stronger, even if it doesn’t feel “okay” right now, you’ll see!



Jen Xu

Athletic trainer, PhD student, coffee lover. I write about fitness, mental health, being Asian-American, and personal growth.