What the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz" taught me about anxiety
Have you ever rewatched a movie as an adult that you loved as a child, and all of a sudden you start to notice completely different conversations, jokes, and themes from that movie? That recently happened to me while I was watching The Wizard of Oz.
I was eating Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked frozen yogurt when the scene where Dorothy meets the Scarecrow played out in front of me. In the scene, Dorothy helps the Scarecrow off his post and he falls down, spilling the hay stuffing that makes up his body. He says, “There goes some of me again!” Dorothy looks worried and asks, “Does it hurt you?”
The Scarecrow says, “Oh, no! I just keep picking it up and putting it back in again.” I stopped, mid-spoonful of frozen yogurt, and furrowed my brow as I thought about that line. That’s when I realized: I feel like the Scarecrow on a daily basis.
I, too, often feel like I’m falling apart. On the outside, I may look like I have it together, but I really feel as if little bits of myself are constantly getting lost along the way. I have diagnosed general anxiety disorder, which basically means I have a really hard time keeping my worries and anxieties at bay. I struggle with it every day, and I’m constantly seeking out natural methods of coping.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that the Scarecrow also has general anxiety disorder. That’s not the point. My takeaway from that scene was that every time you feel yourself falling apart, you have to take a moment to collect yourself. You can’t let every little thing get to you and defeat you. Otherwise, you lose all the joy in life. It was kind of an “a-ha!” moment — one in which I realized that even though the Scarecrow and I will always have something hard to deal with, we also deserve to take moments to ourselves to try to feel better again.
Most mornings I wake up with gut-wrenching stomach-aches. The kind of stomach-aches borne from worry and fear. My days are spent making sure I have all my ducks in a row for my work and personal life, so that I don’t end up disappointing someone who is counting on me. My anxiety tries to keep me from enjoying many aspects of what life has to offer. It’s always there, lurking around the corner.
So, yes — every day is not easy, even if it looks that way from the outside. A little bit of myself wants to just quit everything because there’s some nagging part of me that starts to think that maybe, there’s just no point. A little bit of myself worries that people won’t like me if I stop joking around and start being a little more real about what I’m dealing with.
But a larger part of me knows that I can do this. I know that I can win this battle, because I am stronger than my anxiety. I will not let it steal my joy and ruin my life. Just like the Scarecrow — I will keep picking up the pieces and putting them back in again.
Simona Peña is a 29-year-old marketing professional living in Milwaukee, WI. She is a fierce pizza enthusiast, proud dog mom, and total ’90s music fan. Find her on Twitter.