Amanda Stern is a mental health advocate, speaker, and advisory board member for Bring Change to Mind. She is also the author of the memoir, Little Panic and multiple pseudonymous children’s books, and has been a fixture in the New York literary scene for years. In 2003 she created the Happy Ending reading series, which ran for thirteen years, as an antidote to her anxiety. The series, designed around public risks, became a critical success, and its inventive model paved the way for the proliferation of music and reading series created in its wake. Her work has appeared in the New York Times; the New York Times Magazine; the New York Times Book Review; Filmmaker, The Believer, Salon, Blackbook, St. Ann’s Review, Post Road, and others. Her personal essays have been included in several anthologies: Love is a Four Letter Word, The Marijuana Chronicles, Women in Clothes, the anthology A Velocity of Being edited by Maria Popova, and her Believer interview with Laurie Anderson was included in Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence: The Best of the Believer Music Interviews. Personally, though, Stern’s life was driven by fear. Her memoir, Little Panic, discusses her journey with living with an anxiety disorder that went undiagnosed for 20 years.
In the interview, Amanda speaks about creating a life on her own terms, including becoming a professional comedian and publishing thirteen books. In addition, she discusses her description of what it was like to grow up struggling with anxiety and an unspecified learning disability. Amanda has conquered many of her life goals that she was told were out of her reach. “Not wanting to live beholden to my fears was what catapulted me into growing into my adult self. I made a choice to face everything that scared me, and I have,” Amanda states.