Sexual abuse, depression, anxiety
Please read at your own discretion
It’s completely normal at one point or another to feel anxious about something
whether it be about a class project, being within an unfamiliar environment, or even simply going to the grocery store. How do we overcome our anxieties and shine during personal battles?
This article is the final part of the Notes from Leadership series, a collection of articles from leaders of the OU Esports Club releasing throughout the fall 2019 semester.
I, for one, am all too familiar with the feelings of dread and “flight and fight” response that comes with being so over-the-top anxious about the littlest of things. The unfortunate part about those feelings is that it has been this way for as long as I can remember. So, if my anxiety really gets the best of me as I say it does, how can I manage to write this article, when there’s a chance it will be exposed to so many people? I hope that by the end, you’ll see the answer.
But, before I go any further, I need to mention something. Most of what I’m going to recall for this article, I’ve never mentioned to a single soul, save maybe one or two tales. So, my family will be learning alongside you all reading this.
With that out of the way, I’d like to take it back to pre-K. Even from preschool, I was seen as more of an outsider of social circles. I really didn’t have any friends, perhaps due to my speech impediments or even just my eccentric nature. I found it exceptionally hard to communicate and meet new people, and the people I did think were my “friends,” were really just bullies whose torture I interpreted as just what friends were.
“I found it exceptionally hard to communicate and meet new people,”
In kindergarten, I was sexually abused by a family friend. I naturally sealed this memory away for many years, and yet the implications it had on me had already begun to show. It had greatly skewed what I viewed as socially acceptable and even made me socially apathetic to other’s feelings, which drove the other kids even further away from me. I was so desperate for attention that I lashed out on two people I had actually started to connect with, and after that, they never talked to me again. I believe this to be the true start of my anxiety, as from that moment on, I was never confident enough to talk to someone new or do anything in public, lest it leads to more people disliking me or bullying me.
“I chose to bottle up all of my emotions…”
I stayed like this all through high school. While, granted, I did form a tight-knit little friend, I always felt disconnected and like no one could truly know me. Not to mention, being from a small town, you gain your reputation as a kid and keep it until you either move away or do something scandalous. I chose to bottle up all of my emotions and anxiety, and only one person that I can think of (off the top of my head) ever knew the “true” me.
However, one place was always my sanctum: video games. When I played video games, I could be whoever I wanted and do whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to be this depressed, anxiety-ridden child, I could be a brave warrior Dragonborn, running around with sword and sorcery.
Realistically though, I was in a miserable state, and I’m lucky that I had the chance to come to OU. When I finalized my plans to come out to Oklahoma, I decided to see it not as leaving my life behind, but rather, as an opportunity to reinvent myself and be the “me” I always wanted to be. I’ve always known that, at my core, I am an entertainer. I am passionate about my interests and helping others. When I saw that the Esports Club had an opening for the Stream Team, I knew it was my chance to cement the new view in life I had taken up. I went for it, and lo-and-behold, I attained a spot.
Dedicating myself to the Stream Team was a big shift: I had a responsibility to stream each week, and I stuck to it. I used streaming to finally jump into public singing, which I always had really wanted to do, but never had the confidence. I had finally found my niche, and it allowed me to flourish as a person.
“I had finally found my niche, and it allowed me to flourish as a person.”
In the Spring semester, I took over the role of Stream Director. Now, I can easily face down a room of 100+ people and give a talk like it’s no one’s business. If you had asked me just a year ago, I would’ve been absolutely disgusted at the idea of becoming a broadcast meteorologist. Now, I’m getting ready to formalize my minor as broadcast meteorology. Clearly, something has changed within me due to streaming.
Streaming has always been my fall back, regardless of how strong my depression may be, or how hard life is. I truly think that getting into streaming and the Esports Club, thanks to OU, completely flipped my life around from what it could’ve been, and I couldn’t be any happier with what I’m doing right now.
— MATTHEW MILLER