Anxiety is a thing that is widely misunderstood. It has many forms and many different ways and just having one of them can make you look like you’re just overreacting, because mental illnesses are the joke of the diseases. Mine, still hugely misunderstood, is atychiphobia. Look it up on Wikipedia. They’ll tell you it’s “the abnormal, unwarranted, and persistent fear of failure.”
Let me inform you on a little something-something: it’s less than that. It’s a lot more than that. It’s everything.
Assuming I tell people I have a fear of failure, if I ever do, the reaction is always the same. The fear itself will be highly underrated. Said friend will tell me that it “sucks”, but surely, if I just put my mind to whatever it is I need to do, I’ll make it anyhow. As if this phobia is something I can just switch off, because, hey, I’m an “intelligent girl” and I “just need to try harder.”
The things I want to say at times like those, but never do, is that it does not work like that. It’s more than that. What people don’t realize is how devastating it can be, how it can lead to this constricted lifestyle that no one even bothered to consider. That no one even cared to think of because it’s the most ridiculous thing to anyone who doesn’t know how it feels.
And I feel ridiculous, because it’s holding me back. My own brain is holding me back in everything. It’s more than being stressed about a test. It’s more than being afraid to fail a class. It’s more than studying hard to make sure the fear isn’t warranted. Once again – it’s everything.
What it is, you may ask? It’s me, not wanting to go to class, because if I do and I haven’t studied, I will fail that test, fail my major and end up a mineworker (even if we don’t have those anymore). It’s me, putting off studying and not because I’m lazy, but because just looking at my books makes me stop breathing for a moment. It’s me not dancing in public because it makes me look like a fool. It’s me, not going out, because I don’t know anyone and I can’t deal with not leaving the best impression that I can. It’s me, not wanting to do sports, because I’ll fail anyway, and surely, that must be the worst thing I could ever possibly imagine. It’s me not getting my writing published because they’ll think I suck anyway, even if I don’t.
It’s me walking away from a boy I’m in love with when he asks me out, because if I say yes, he’ll regret it after because he’ll see I’m not the person he thought I was. Because he’ll see that I’m not worth the trouble.
What it is, is me undermining my own abilities. It’s me not taking the risk. It’s me, missing out on life experiences that I always wanted, just because I’m afraid that I’ll do something that will ruin it all. It’s me not saying yes to things I always wanted to say yes to.
I strive to be perfect, and when perfect is not an option, there’s no point in trying at all.
And when someone throws me in the deep end, when someone forces me to do those things anyway, two things might happen. The best case scenario is that I’ll end up going with the flow and look back at it fondly, saying to myself that there was actually nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t bring death upon me and I actually enjoyed said activity. That has happened. On occasion.
But then there’s the other, the one that is worse than all my fears combined. The patronizing fear of something unfamiliar. The heart that stops beating in my throat. The palms that get sweaty. My body going into “flight or fight” mode, getting ready to fled the scene. My tongue, tied in my mouth, unable to pronounce words. Me growing entirely unresponsive. My fear taking over.
And then nothing happens. Then I black out, panic for a good twenty minutes, until somehow, I manage to snap out of it. To only beat myself up over being so weak.
So no, it’s not just being a little anxious about a test. It’s not simply striving to be good. It controls everything, it is everything, and it’s nothing I’ll ever show you, because if I do? I’m flawed instead of perfect. And perfect is what I need to be.
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!
You care too much when it doesn’t matter and don’t care enough when it does. You feel like your heart might burst, like your brain might explode and like your world will collapse if you don’t answer that one text, but when a friendship is on the line, you don’t care. Not really. And it’s not because you’re selfish. It’s not because you want the friendship to end. But it’s simply because opening up is scary and because admitting you’re wrong is not something you like to do and maybe because you have walls built around you that are the size of mountains and they take years and years of breaking down and sometimes it’s not soon enough. Sometimes, your walls are down and it’s actually too late. So it mattered. And you still care. Just not the way you should, and after it’s over, you care too much. Your heart bursts. Your brain explodes. And for a moment, your world will collapse.
as much as people do things they enjoy, it seems like they don’t do what makes them happy. these days, we don’t participate in acts that are purely for our own enjoyment, to please ourselves instead of everyone around us. we’re taught that doing selfish acts is to be frowned upon, but how can you help someone or love someone if you yourself aren’t okay in the slightest, or, worse, if you don’t love yourself?
in my humble opinion, doing something just for your own sake is highly underrated.