Young, Black, and Anxious; My Thoughts on First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

I’ve never considered myself to be an anxious person. Reading Sarah Wilson’s book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety made me reevaluate anxiety’s role as a recurring character in my everyday life.

Why I Work From Home

Currently, I work from home as a freelancer; where I write and edit for my amazingly wonderful clients. I love 90% of the career I have crafted for myself. But, I can’t shy away from the fact that a large reason why I have chosen this life is to stay far away from the things that make me anxious.

For example, I have dealt with social anxiety for as long as I can remember. If something off happens socially (i.e. someone looks at me the wrong way, I don’t answer a question in exactly the right way, etc.) that memory becomes lodged in my thought process for at least the entire day. I become obsessed with these events, which can bring me to some dark places.

I also deal with driving anxiety. When I do get behind the wheel; I don’t deviate from familiar routes. Certain parts of driving aggravate my anxiety like getting on the highway, backing out of a parking spot, and changing lanes. Most of the time I avoid these very necessary parts of driving.

Being Black and Anxious

It’s hard to discuss this because being black and anxious feels like an oxymoron. As a black woman, I feel as though I’m fighting against a caricature of what I believe people think that I’m supposed to be.

I’m supposed to be confident. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be fearless. More often than not, I’m just underneath the surface gasping for air. When I’m anxious, I lose my sense of self. I often get caught up in a cycle of being anxious, and as a result, being anxious about being anxious; which author Sarah Wilson brings up in this book. (BTW, there’s nothing good that comes from being anxious about being anxious)

Why I Enjoy First, We Make the Beast Beautiful

Within this book, the author takes a look at anxiety from a multitude of different perspectives. This includes scientific evidence to explain it, actionable exercises to combat it, and personal experiences the reader can relate to. One of the many reasons why I like this book is its tone. It’s approachable, compassionate, and accessible.

During my last semester of college, I took an introductory psychology course for the fun of it. The language that I experienced that class was so unnecessarily complex and high-brow that the class was very, very hard to enjoy.

Reading this book is like chatting with your super-smart friend who reads scientific studies for fun, but doesn’t make you feel bad that the only regular reading you get is through Buzzfeed quizzes

If you are someone who deals with anxiety, or you know someone who does, check out this book. It may broaden your perspective and help you cope.


In 2020, I’m committed to reading at least one book a month. Let’s call it: Nia’s 2020 Book Reading Extravaganza.

If you would like to recommend a book to me, that would be amazing. I’m interested in non-fiction, including biographies and self-help books, or fiction centered around POC, LGBTQIA+, or other communities that are rarely represented in literature.

Are you someone who deals with anxiety? How have you worked through it over the years? I would love to learn more about your experiences in the comments section below.

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Love, Nia Simone

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