Camila Cabello is no stranger to speaking out about her struggles with anxiety, and in a candid series of Instagram posts, the singer showed that her mental health conversation is still going strong.
There comes a point in all our lives when we take on a difficult challenge and feel afraid that we’ll fail. It’s an exceptionally common feeling, because even as we aspire to progress personally and professionally, the fear of the unknown can prohibit us from manifesting the success that we’ve created in our minds.
For those living with mental health illnesses, such as anxiety, however, it can ever harder to realise long-held hopes and dreams. Despite your best efforts to keep symptoms at bay, sometimes the overwhelming sense of dread can sabotage your thoughts, behaviours and actions in real and innumerable ways.
Camila Cabello is no stranger to this feeling, and in a series of a deeply honest Instagram posts over the weekend, the singer elaborated on her experiences with anxiety, and the ways she’s learned to cope with being “incredibly nervous” and “socially anxious.”
The pop singer, who recently completed her Never Be the Same Tour, recalled her childhood experiences with mental health, and the crippling anxiety that overwhelmed her when she became the focus of attention.
“I remember growing up hearing stories of the singers I loved, all the stories sounded the same, kids who would grow up performing for their families and putting on talent shows for their parents when they were little who grew up to be dazzling to me,” she began.
“I was the opposite, I never ever sang in front of my parents or friends and would get flustered when they would ask me to, I sang in my room when my parents left for Walmart and cried when one day I saw them filming me through the crack of the door, I got teary eyed when people sang happy birthday to me because people looking at me actually made me overwhelmed. I was generally incredibly nervous and socially anxious when I was little; and people always have this look of disbelief when I tell them that.”
Cabello then went on to explain how she cultivated a braver, confident persona - the “other Camila” - that allowed her to pursue her dreams when her default was to feel “terrified of the unknown”.
“I did an interview the other day where I got it again, the interviewer said something along the lines of ‘So… how’d you end up here?’ The answer is, I feel like my whole life there’s been two Camila’s in me. There’s little Camila that is terrified of the unknown, is aware of all the ways everything can go wrong, (actually can picture them vividly lol), and thinks it’s safer to stay home than to play ball,” she continued.
“Then there’s the other Camila. And she knows what she wants out of life, is aware of how little time I have to let little Camila run the show while time passes by, and grabs young me by the hand and forces her out the door saying ‘Let’s go. You’ll survive, and I’m not gonna miss out on this. Let’s go.’ And that is literally how I can sum up how I’ve gotten to this point in my life.”
“The truth is you decide who you’re going to be,” she continued. “Every day. I’m not talking about talent or success. I just mean the type of person you’re going to be. If you haven’t been very brave, or very social, or wild, or an adventure seeker, if you describe yourself as the opposite of those things… it doesn’t mean you can’t be. The other you needs to grab little you by the hand, yank you by the hairs and tell you, ‘Let’s go.’ Little me hasn’t left. I just don’t let her boss me around as much,” she wrote.
The reason she wanted to share her experiences, Cabello continued, was to break down the perceptions people hold of those in the spotlight, and allow them to better understand her as a person.
“I felt like sharing because I think sometimes we see other people do things and think ‘Ah, well.. that’s just not me. I’ve never been like that.’ It’s NOT TRUE. I’m telling you. I went from never wanting to sing in front of my family to being addicted to performing, from being too anxious to hang out with new people to… still being a little anxious but having THE BEST time and making irreplaceable memories. The essence of me is the same, but I’ve changed so much as a person.”
Whilst it takes time to develop coping mechanisms for anxiety, Cabello urges that taking on the negative thoughts and pushing yourself to do the unfamiliar is “always worth the fight.”
“You choose who you’re going to be. Force yourself to do what you’re afraid of, always - and go after what you want and who you want to be, because you’re worth that. You’re worth the fight. It’s the most worthwhile one there is.”
It’s not the first time the Havana singer has opened up about her mental health. In a previous interview with Billboard, Cabello discussed the “f*cked up” effects of her anxiety when asked about the high and low points of her year.
“I was having terrible anxiety, nonstop,” she explained. “My heart would beat really fast the whole day. Two hours after I woke up, I’d need a nap because my body was so hyperactive. It was so eff - sorry, but it was so f*cked up. I was scared of what would happen to me, of the things my brain might tell me. I realised the stuff I thought was important isn’t worth my health. Now I write in a diary every day, work out, and meditate.”
Cabello’s inspiring posts reminds us that by embracing open conversation around mental health, we can break down shame and stigma, as well as spread knowledge and perspectives that change the way society treats mental illness. As Cabello says, that’s always worth the fight.