To be honest, I don’t know how I wrote the song. People have asked, and I still kind of feel like it was a fluke-insight by and for a brain that was in desperate need of comfort. What I do know is that the first time I played it live, I was very anxious, which is ironic since the song is called Anxiety Lies.
It’s a vulnerable song. I sing lines like “I wear a disguise these days ‘cause somebody told me I could fake it all the way—like I’m just the girl on stage. I have to admit it feels like she has more to say.” It’s not a song about an ex-boyfriend or existential heartbreak; it’s a song about what I’m doing right there and then in front of the audience. It’s me admitting, “hi, this is me, and I’m super anxious right now.”
All of this started three years ago when I made the most frightening and affirming choice that I have ever made: I became a professional singer-songwriter. Writing music and performing were thrilling. Booking, PR, management, and contracts on the other hand...let’s just say they did not come as easily to me. The more my career grew, the more that my anxiety took the wheel. I was overcome by the feeling that I didn’t know enough, wasn’t capable enough, and most of all that I needed to pretend I was a good musician so people wouldn’t find out the truth. But that all changed when I wrote a song called Anxiety Lies.
After that first time I played the song live, an odd thing happened: a woman came up to me to tell me about her own struggle with anxiety. She took me aside and almost whispered that she had struggled to get out of her house to the show that night; “too many people,” she chuckled. Even stranger, quiet admissions of anxiety poured out at almost every show where I played “Anxiety Lies.” I have never had a song that elicited so many deeply personal responses, ever.
That song gave me a gift. It helped me realize how normal I was. There I was, thinking I’m this super anxious weirdo—that somehow I should know how to be a publicist, manager, booking agent, and lawyer despite a total lack of training in all of those areas and I should maintain the appearance of calm confidence so as not to betray my terror. The reality was that I was surrounded by people just as confused and freaked out as me. It actually made us all feel better to admit we were anxious. Community wasn’t curing our anxiety, but it was taking away anxiety’s power to seal us in. In other words, sharing our fear, made us all a little more brave.
Of course, we don’t always know how to reach one another to share. That’s why, as the days get shorter and the family events get nearer, I would like to invite you to share this playlist to beat anxiety with a friend. I made it for myself to listen to in the bubble bath right after therapy. I hope it serves as a conversation starter. What are you worried about right now and how do you make yourself feel strong? Who knows, maybe you will make someone else feel a little stronger, a little braver just by sharing.
Listen to the complete playlist here