Goldenheart, or Why My Anxiety is No Longer a Defect

I had a realization today: my anxiety is no longer a defect.

Sam Ripples


Photo by Stokpic from Pexels

I had a realization today: my anxiety is no longer a defect.

I know I am an anxious individual, but I’ve come to appreciate that for what it really is: I want to give everyone in the world a small piece of my own happiness and I get upset when I can’t share it.

In 2012, one of my good friends and I went on a summer trip that would change the course of my life forever. Of the many beautiful moments of that trip — driving my very own car through the mountains of West Virginia and feeling my heart swell with grace, seeing Furthur at Legend Valley as a heart formed in the clouds of sunset sky, staying at a five-star hotel in Asheville days after camping in the humid Ohio heat at the aforementioned music festival — one still, and shall always stick out the most.

I’ve always had a thing about nicknames.

I like to give them and when I do, they generally stick. The power of a new name is almost magical — calling someone something that fits their small little niche in life always sends a tingle of good vibes down my spine.

I’ve never had many nicknames, other than my original: Sam. It’s short and sweet, just the way I like it, androgynous and common enough that everyone remembers it.

So when someone gives me one, it has to be good. It has to stick the right way.

My best friend took me to see Phish for the first time. The amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia has gone by a few names since then, but to me it’s the one with the trees. Pine trees stuck straight up intro the sky around the parking lot, sheltering the concertgoers with their green spines.

At a moment when the music was paused, I stepped away from my group for a moment, wavy with a strange effervescence that clouded the air as thickly as marijuana smoke, to refill our water bottles.

At concerts, I’m always the one to volunteer to go get water for the group while everyone smokes cigarettes and relaxes. I like the be helpful.

I waited in line for a while, watching the bejeweled hippies and cap-wearing bros in polos pass by me in equal…