Why Saying ‘Anxiety Is Normal’ Can Help Us Heal

Children’s author Jason Reynolds makes the case that anxiety is an important, instructive part of the human experience.

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Posted in , Jan 26, 2022

Teen talking to mom

Stuntboy by Jason Reynolds, illustrations by Raúl the Third (Simon & Schuster)Jason Reynolds is an award-winning children’s author and the Library of Congress’  National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His stories center the lives and experiences of Black children, and they have profound emotional heft. 

On a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Reynolds offered an observation that resonates deeply with anyone—of any age—who struggles with anxiety. The simple message is this: anxiety is a normal part of the human experience.

Reynolds’ new graphic novel Stuntboy, in the Meantime is about a boy who experiences deep anxiety as his parents go through a divorce. The main character takes on an alter ego to protect his family during what Reynolds calls “the changing sands of family.” 

As someone who has lived with anxiety his whole life, Reynolds wants his young readers (and their parents, and their grandparents) to learn that anxiety is not a moral failing, it’s actually a character strength. He wants to see more people “talking about it, normalizing it, making sure people understand that there’s nothing wrong with us,” he told Colbert.

Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, Reynolds says. Instead, he sees it as an indication of a person’s care and connection for the people and places where they live. “Maybe it’s not about it being a weakness, but instead being a strength that is connected to our compassion. That I’m so compassionate that the mere thought of something wrong makes me anxious. That I’m so empathetic that the mere thought of someone in pain makes me anxious.”

“This is a good thing,” he said. 

I quite agree. Do you?

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