Who is Anxiety? An Investigative Interview with Personified Anxiety

Dr. Jodi: (Voice over) This role-play was created as a sample of the Interview with Anxiety activity from the COMPASS Curriculum. In it, Elton, the WCALM news anchor, interviews Anxiety, in attempts to expose it for the fraud it is. After a few minutes of challenging Anxiety, Elton turns to Sonic, a higher schooler, to find out how she has dealt with Anxiety. You’ll notice that Anxiety is a bully and stays in character until Elton and Sonic begin to crack it. By the end, they are able to ignore it completely.

Who is Anxiety?

Elton: Hello this is Elton with WCALM news and I’m with Anxiety today. Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Anxiety: Well, I’m Anxiety. I’m sure most of you know me. I’m a pretty constant…pretty constantly in everyone’s life. I’m a regular. I know you’ve seen me more than a few times.

Elton: What are you looking forward to this week?

Anxiety: Ah well…there’s a math test at this local high school. I’m probably going to hang around some of the kids there. Maybe raise a few heart rates, throw in some nausea, maybe a few headaches, have some fun.

Elton: Why might you do that?

Anxiety: Well, someone’s gotta motivate them to study. If they don’t think they’re gonna do great on the tests then what else are they gonna do? 

Elton: Interesting. Now considering “motivation.” would a lot of people say you’re their friend?

Anxiety: Well, I mean in a way I am I’m always there. I’m always around; I’m the extra push they need to think through situations…a few times. 

Elton: And do they enjoy your company? 

interview with anxiety, who is anxiety drawing from video

Anxiety: Well, I’m sure that they don’t always enjoy my company but you get bored of the same person after a while, don’t you?

Elton: So, are you there forever?

Who is Anxiety? It stays in Character here, with It’s Narrative that it Rules

Anxiety: Pretty much. I’m always around unless there’s someone being stubborn. 

Elton: Interesting. So what happens when they’re stubborn and you can’t get in their head? 

Anxiety: I might leave them alone for that for a bit, bug off, come again later when they’re being more vulnerable.

Elton: Do you think you can convince them?

Anxiety: Of course, I can! I always get in everyone’s head at some point or another.

Elton: It kind of seems like you’re projecting some of your own insecurities…

Anxiety: I thought this was an interview, not a therapy session! 

Elton: Are you insecure?

Anxiety is not happy with the line of questioning

Who is Sonic?

Elton: (turns to Sonic) Hello   Sonic: Hi.

Elton: Would you like to introduce yourself?

Sonic: Hi I’m Sonic, a high school student. 

Elton: Do you know anxiety? 

Sonic: Sadly I do…but I don’t really anymore. 

Elton: Well, that’s good to hear. And what did you think about Anxiety’s answers? 

Sonic: Anxiety seemed like they were insecure themselves.
You know, I don’t really know what they’re thinking half the time because, you know, it’s mostly just insecurities…not being able to handle themselves. 

Elton: I can understand that, yeah and have you ever had experience with Anxiety like face to face? 

Sonic: Uh yeah, I have, you know, High School is a difficult time for many people so it really does come here to there. 

Elton: All right, and how have you silenced them [Anxiety]?

Sonic: Mostly I’ve silenced anxiety by hanging out with my friends, who I love dearly, and who I trust while also talking to trusted adults that I feel comfortable.

Anxiety:  Oh but I’m always around! You need me! 

Sonic: What’s that? 

Elton: What is your biggest motivation to keep anxiety silenced?

Sonic: Well I would say that my biggest motivation is to expand my horizons and get away from Anxiety. To not hinder myself in creating new connections. 

Elton: Fantastic, and how do you know you can silence them again? 

Sonic: I know I can silence Anxiety because I can blossom on my own without them trying to persuade me or bring me down for something that might not even happen. 

Anxiety is done staying quiet

Anxiety: But I’m always going to come back.

Elton: Did you hear that? 

Sonic: What that a creak? What was that?:

Elton: Well thank you so much for coming today too.

Sonic: You, too

(inaudible small talk)

interview with anxiety, who is anxiety screen shot from video

Understanding Who is Anxiety

Dr. Jodi: (Voice over) I hope you noticed how the bully “Anxiety” shows you how it wants you to think. “Anxiety” is trying to convince you that it will always be around and have power over your mind, that you need it to motivate and protect yourself, and that it is more liked than it actually is. It also gaslights you if you don’t listen, suggesting “stubborn” is a negative thing.

Elton, the interviewer, and Sonic, the high school student, counter some of these by suggesting Anxiety is insecure and its bullying behavior is a projection of that insecurity. Sonic shares that she silenced Anxiety by trusting herself & surrounding herself with positive friends and adults. Her answers shrink Anxiety’s power, so much that it can’t even stay in the room.

This simulation was how these 3 actors interpreted the Interview with Anxiety activity. If they had longer, they may have uncovered more of the tricks and drives behind Anxiety’s bullying.

Now it is your turn to expose Anxiety. Have some fun! The activity is meant to loosen up some of your more serious and disheartening assumptions about Anxiety. It’ll help you stop thinking about Anxiety as a part of who you are, and start thinking of it as a bully who tries to have influence over you. 

Investigate: What is Anxiety up to in your life? Why does it want to do that? What helps it? What hurts it? 

Next: When do anxiety’s lies work on you? When don’t they? What are the actions you can take to sustain your power over anxiety?  

I hope you enjoyed this role-play because understanding Anxiety and how it functions, will empower you to silence it once and for all. 

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