Live Through This

Nobody’s Perfect

It took me a long time to realize that included me.

Illustration by Kelly

Illustration by Kelly

When I was younger, I could go hungry at a restaurant because I was scared to give the cashier my order, and then a few hours later, I would be on stage at my weekly drama class, strutting my stuff with my performing arts pals. My hand would often be the first to shoot up in the classroom, but I once burst into tears when I had to read an essay of mine aloud. I baffled my parents and my friends—the drama kids couldn’t figure out why I turned into a wallflower offstage, and everyone else in my life didn’t know what to make of me when I wasn’t acting shy.

To put it simply, I was TERRIFIED of negative attention. I’d rather freeze up and not do anything at all than say the wrong thing and be criticized for it. At the same time, I was hungry for praise, and I structured my life around getting a lot of it. I was good in school, so I spoke up in class and took every extracurricular that I had room for. Teachers loved me and I won academic awards left and right. Drama allowed me to express myself without having to come up with my own words, and as long as I worked really hard to please the director, I couldn’t go wrong—at least not until I left school. My community-theater dreams were shattered by three failed auditions, and afterwards I stuck to classes and clubs, where I was always guaranteed parts.

This anxiety didn’t end in the classroom. I’m a naturally shy person, and I used to want all my interactions to go perfectly, so I practically wrote them out in advance, always terrified that the other person would go off-script and force me to think on my feet. If I was ordering food, for example, I’d expect the waitress to ask what I wanted, I’d tell her, then she would leave. If she unexpectedly asked me what toppings or sides I wanted with my burger, I was rattled and took WAY too long to decide. Or, worse, she might be chatty and ask a completely unrelated question about my day, and now my whole narrative was off and I wouldn’t know how to answer. Do I just say “good” or do I give a full rundown, and then how do I segue back to my order, and oh no, I’m taking too long to answer and I look like an idiot, WHY DOES THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO ME? Basically, even the prospect of feeling awkward counted as negative attention, which made me more awkward, because now I was this creepy quiet girl who would turn into stone when asked to do ordinary things like order a hamburger.

I can’t tell you how many times my parents cajoled me into doing something I didn’t want to do, like cash a check at the bank, and then I’d make a tiny little mistake, like writing down my routing number instead of my account number, and I’d stutter a little bit but pretend to laugh it off even though I was dying inside, because I’d made a stupid mistake and now that teller was thinking that I was a dumb teenager who didn’t know how banking works. I’d get outside and yell at my parents “DID YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENED? You made me do this and it all went wrong and don’t you feel terrible?” And they’d just shake their heads wondering where they went wrong raising me.

In those cases, my social anxiety was extreme and noticeable, but I think the more damaging stress I dealt with is something that many, many people experience: I was working so hard to be perfect that I took any sort of reprimand or critique or social misstep as a judgment on my character.

As you can imagine, school was a minefield. When I was six or seven, I once got caught climbing a tree on the playground, and I’ll never forget how sick I felt after my teacher yelled at me to get down. It was like I’d done something very, very wrong and it could never be rectified. I couldn’t understand why all my friends, who’d also gotten scolded, were able to happily play somewhere else—it took me all day to get over it.

In high school, I wanted to get good marks on all my assignments, because being an honors student earned me the praise I desired, but also because when I didn’t live up to my high standards, I’d be crushed. Math was my weak point, and the few Cs that made it onto my report cards stood out as black marks that would forever paint me as a failure. Even constructive criticism could shake me up, like the note I once got on a creative writing assignment to come up with a “punchier ending.” The teacher loved the piece, but the ending was mediocre and now that I was aware of it, I felt terrible for turning in that piece of crap.

That same sick feeling I got as a kid after climbing that tree was triggered any time I did something wrong, like accidently hurt someone’s feelings or make a mistake at work. A gentle reprimand—“you did this incorrectly, please fix it, and don’t do it again”—sounded to me like someone screaming at me. I once forgot to return a book I’d borrowed from school before summer break, and I’m not exaggerating at all when I say it took me about EIGHT YEARS to be able to hear the name Nancy Drew without feeling shame. I was certain that the teacher who lost it harbored a grudge against me, so I hid the book in my room and spent the next decade or so fighting random spikes of anxiety whenever I thought about it.

After high school, criticism becomes even more common, while praise is harder to come by. College professors don’t get excited just because you understand the coursework, and your manager at the big box store you’re working at on weekends probably won’t even notice you unless you screw up. It was a big change, and it forced me to make an important adjustment: I had to start looking to myself for encouragement. Was this essay/poster/poem something I could be proud of? Did I do the best I could? Did I have fun doing it? I started doing photography as a hobby, just so I could look at all my pretty pictures, and spent ridiculous amounts of time on projects that had no purpose except for the fun of creating them, like the time I started making wall art out of old sticky notes. And this was surprisingly easy—it turned out that pride in yourself for hard work feels just as good as praise from another person.

Learning to deal with criticism, on the other hand, was much harder. My constant fear of failure was starting to interfere with my schoolwork, because I’d procrastinate to stave off the possibility of not excelling, and then I’d turn in less-than-stellar work anyway, because I didn’t give myself enough time to complete it. So my freshman year of college, I made the big decision to see a school counselor. And, man, I wish I’d done it a lot earlier.

One of the very first things my counselor did was ship me off to a doctor for anti-anxiety medication. Once I was on the right cocktail of pills, I felt like a new person. Suddenly, talking was a little less scary, and the shame of failure was much more fleeting. (Not everyone who has anxiety needs drugs to cope, but if you feel it’s interfering with everyday life, I do recommend at least talking to your doctor.) I also started therapy, and my counselor really helped change my outlook on the world. In some cases, I just needed practice. She’d give me assignments to do things I found terrifying, like asking for a job application at a local fast-food restaurant, and I slowly gained more confidence in my ability to handle these kinds of interactions. Most of my fears of rejection were in my head—no one ever told me, “Wow, you really effed up that conversation!”

I also talked about other things that were bothering me, and I got some clarity. Everyday schoolwork just wasn’t important enough for me to feel so stressed about it, and furthermore, it was OK to fail. I took this message in, and when I started to crash and burn in college biology, I didn’t force myself to stick it out. I accepted that biology and I were just never going to get along, and I dropped the course. Just a year before, I would have berated myself for weeks this for doing this, but now I only felt relief.

A year or two after I graduated high school, I had a conversation with my old algebra teacher. I said something about being bad at math, and he told me that I was never bad at math—my other classes just came so easily to me that I didn’t know what it was like to struggle to learn something. He pointed out that many of my classmates celebrated when they got a C. My perspective had been so skewed that I assumed I had really embarrassed myself by not being the best, and that others thought less of me as a result.

I realize now no one is thinking as hard about me as I am. That teacher on the playground was just worried that I’d fall, and she probably forgot about the incident five minutes later, while I’m still thinking about it 15 years later. My creative writing teacher just wanted to help me improve my story. Waitresses and bank tellers have dealt with literally thousands of small mistakes and awkward moments over the years.

Earlier today, I made a rather large mistake at my day job, resulting in my having to send a correction email to several thousand people. It was really, really embarrassing. But instead of retreating in panic and begging my boss not to fire me, I calmly apologized and then wrote a self-deprecating Facebook post so that EVERYONE had an opportunity to laugh at me. It felt a lot better than mentally beating myself up.

On the flip side, with the understanding that my failures were not permanent came the knowledge that most of my accomplishments have been similarly fleeting. My academic awards have done absolutely nothing for me apart from a few moments of pride and fodder for scholarship applications. Most of the compliments I got from my drama teacher are just fuzzy memories today.

I’m not saying that any of this was worthless. Being a good student served me well, but not because my teachers loved me—rather because it gave me skills and opportunities to move on in life. It’s important to work hard and nurture ambition, but for the right reasons—not to escape criticism, but because it makes you happy. It’s better to learn from your mistakes than not to make them at all. ♦

46 Comments

  • baex3 May 7th, 2013 3:22 PM

    “It’s better to learn from mistakes than to not make them at all.” Amen.

    http://carlottasvintage.tumblr.com/

  • melouize May 7th, 2013 3:23 PM

    Wow.
    I really, really needed this. I have similar/almost identical episodes of panic whenever I feel that I have disappointed someone. I am getting a LOT better at it with professors and bosses, but it still takes everything I have not to fall to pieces if I feel like I’ve upset one of my friends. I appreciate so much that I’m not the only one who feels/felt this way. Thank you for reminding me that I can get over this.

    • Helena K. May 8th, 2013 2:13 AM

      I’m so glad other people feel this way. I spent most of history class yesterday because I thought I had said something that made my friend mad, but it turned out she was just tired. This post is really related to that one about how a lot of times, peoples problems are not about you.

  • nikkiduck May 7th, 2013 3:46 PM

    Whoa, I relate to this so much. especially that sick feeling you get when you feel you’ve disappointed someone. I’ve never known anyone else who gets that feeling. I’m glad that you’ve been feeling better about it all though! I’ve actually been waiting to get a counseling appointment through my university, where hopefully I can find the same relief you did :)

    • loonylizzy May 7th, 2013 4:31 PM

      i get that feeling! once i was talking to my THERAPIST, someone who was there to help me get PAST all that nasty anxiety, and i started feeling like i’d disappointed HER because i couldn’t stop feeling bad for disappointing people so i got sick to my stomach and ended up crying uncontrollably for the rest of my session. disappointment is a terrible feeling to anxious peeps like us.

      http://www.theflightoftheflamingo.blogspot.com

      • AnaRuiz May 7th, 2013 7:05 PM

        Hey there soul mate! My approach to this matter is just never talking to my shrink about what really matters. I’m a perfect deceiver.

        (Yes, I know how bad this is but I just CAN’T. In my defense I’ve been going only for a few months.)

        http://anaruizwriting.blogspot.com

  • Eileen May 7th, 2013 3:53 PM

    I loved this; I feel like negative attention is too much for me to handle. I’d love to get to the point where I don’t care but all I can think about is the fear of breaking down Thanks for making yourself so relateable! I know being that honest can be really hard, but it makes you an inspiration for all of us!!
    waitingforeuro.blogspot.com

  • soretudaaa May 7th, 2013 3:54 PM

    BEAUTIFUL TIMING (and article :P )

  • awkwardblackgirl May 7th, 2013 3:57 PM

    Oh god, I can relate to this so much. I’m always ridiculously nervous about things that people do every day like making an order at McDonalds or asking a teacher for help. ANXIETY KIDS UNITE! lolol

  • elliecp May 7th, 2013 4:08 PM

    This is so true. It’s so difficult growing up, as you want to impress both your peers and your teachers and parents, however you feel like your peers will like you if you don’t try as hard , whereas your parents and teachers won’t like you unless you do try really hard. It’s so confusing, but if you sort of juggle you can get through.
    And of course, mistakes are what make you a better person in the future :)

    http://roseandvintage.blogspot.com/

  • margaret e. May 7th, 2013 4:17 PM

    I completely can relate to this. When I was younger, I would get awful stomachaches and feel sick all of the time. I went to the doctor for over a year, but medicine couldn’t fix it. I realized that it was mostly anxiety, and as soon as I calmed down I began to feel better. I still am a generally quiet person and am afraid of disappointing others, but I feel a lot better than before.

  • dobby_is_my_hero May 7th, 2013 4:20 PM

    This is something that I’m struggling with too, and reading this reminded me how abnormal it is to spend years remembering your first timeout in preschool with shame and guilt. Sometimes it helps to tell the nagging voice in your head to stop being an butthole because you’re awesome.

  • loonylizzy May 7th, 2013 4:26 PM

    OMIGOSH you pretty much just described me… i’m exactly the same way. the part about the math teacher? THAT HAPPENED TO ME. like almost the exact same conversation. i’m trying to start accepting my imperfections and taking criticism, but geez it’s hard, especially since i have an anxiety disorder. awesome article though, i can absolutely relate. it’s nice to know i’m not the only person who’s an anxious people-pleaser, and that i can get past it :)

    http://www.theflightoftheflamingo.blogspot.com

  • I W May 7th, 2013 4:28 PM

    I feel almost the opposite- I can’t take totally positive feedback seriously- I always feel like I’ve done something wrong and the person is just being overly nice to avoid mentioning it.
    http://doxographies.blogspot.co.uk/

  • abby111039 May 7th, 2013 4:45 PM

    This is the story of my fucking life.

  • elyse. May 7th, 2013 5:01 PM

    I totally relate to this, but taken down a few notches. What I do is remember that I happen to belong to that human species, which is not perfect, and I will continue to make mistakes, so I might as well learn from them.

  • mayaautumn May 7th, 2013 5:15 PM

    This is so beautifully written. i completely get what you’ve experienced however in some ways Im the opposite… like i hate acting on a stage and in class i tend to take a back seat but when it comes to publicly talking/chatting (for example having someone take my order in a restaurant) i think im more confident than ever because i just think it doesn’t really matter if i embarrass myself…its unlikely ill see them again, you know? But i can also see it from different approaches. i find this a really interesting article, thanks !

    http://mayathapapaya.wordpress.com

  • Chloe22 May 7th, 2013 6:17 PM

    I have the same prob! Math is not my strength at all, and some other subjects have been super hard for me. But my mom told me that, yes, you should try your best, but your in school to learn, not to do stuff you already know. And instead of focusing on what your weakness is, really work hard on getting even better at what your good at. I’m homeschooled. I’m behind in math but take college level English courses. No one’s perfect!
    http://rhinestonemoon.blogspot.com/

  • GlitterKitty May 7th, 2013 6:21 PM

    Oh my god this is me. I can never relax and feel very guilty when I’m watching TV or something and I have schoolwork to do, even it’s an ongoing assignment that isn’t due for weeks. But the weirdest thing is that I can’t write a speech and say it for the class unless I read it straight from the paper. I have no problem answering questions in class (some of which are pretty stupid answers) but as soon as I have to write it, it’s very panic inducing. Doing dance recitals never freaked me out but public speaking…. oh god.

  • katiestarrynight May 7th, 2013 6:45 PM

    I can relate to this to an extent. I’ve become better at taking criticism though, and acting was the key to my confidence.
    Katie xx
    http://thegravityandshe.blogspot.co.uk

  • Kourtney May 7th, 2013 6:59 PM

    I relate to this a lot. I saw the title of this article and I was like “this will be good”. I am a VERY, VERY, INCREDIBLY anxious individual. My anxiety fuses with my insecurity and my shyness and it just turns me into a useless vegetable. Simple things make me very anxious. Like for example, when I remember that I have volleyball practice, my hearts start beating very fast (volleyball makes me anxious and nervous because I’m not ‘good’ and I don’t want to disappoint my teammates). Sometimes I’ll remember the mistakes I made in a game and my limbs would feel weak and I’d feel sick to mystomach. I’ve tried talking to people about it but they just tell me to be confident. But it’s not that simple. I really believe my anxiety is a medical problem than just mere insecurities. “To put it simply, I was TERRIFIED of negative attention. I’d rather freeze up and not do anything at all than say the wrong thing and be criticized for it. At the same time, I was hungry for praise, and I structured my life around getting a lot of it.” <– my life in three sentences.

  • lydiamerida May 7th, 2013 8:50 PM

    Oh boy. This sounds just like me. My friends think I’m a freak.

  • painting_the_roses_pink May 7th, 2013 9:42 PM

    I made an account here JUST to comment on this article! I can relate to collapsing into a ball of tears when I feel like I’ve disappointed my best friend, just the other day we went shopping with a mutual friend of ours and we where admittedly third wheeling her (not cool). She confronted me about it when we went into F21 and our friend didn’t feel like it so she sat in the front. I immediately started crying, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORE! I’m so not a crier, I didn’t cry at a family member’s death or when I busted my chin open! I explained that I was sorry and that I felt terrible and she said she wasn’t mad at me she forgave me. I still felt horrible and so I went the extra mile to laugh and joke with my best friend and include her in. She was over it by the end of the day and we all ended up having a great time!

    I used to be very anxious about ordering at restaurants and talking to cashiers, but so is my best friend! So whenever we would be in one of those situations I had to step up and be confident. She really pushed me to get over my anxiety and I’m grateful.

  • K8 is Gr8 May 7th, 2013 9:46 PM

    Wow. This is great. My mom works at the school I go to, so I know all my teachers really well. I’m known as the goody two shoes, the class mother, the advice giver, etc etc. so whenever I make a mistake or need advice, it makes me feel like I’ve failed. Just the other day my friend needed guy help, and me (being absolutely clueless as to what to do) felt defeated. This really helped me realize that it’s not a big deal, and it won’t matter in the long run.
    *on a completely different nots: rookie writers! Maybe for June an article on flirting/how to flirt/what to do when someone flirts with you? Might be helpful for girls who are vey awkward with boys… Like me… And umm… Me… I’m the only one in my class who’s boy-awkward… So… Yeah…

  • crapbag May 7th, 2013 9:51 PM

    Wow did my future self write this article and just lie about doing drama and getting the best grades?? Haha. Seriously though, this article totally describes my anxiety. Like, I knew obviously I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way but I’d never heard anyone else describe to this extent how their anxiety affected them.
    Strangely enough, this year after moving to a city where i knew nobody for college and doing heaps of new things, meeting new people, (AKA stuff that just the idea of terrified me), my anxiety seems a lot better. Last year I didn’t graduate high school because of my poor attendance, I barely ever went because my anxiety had gotten so bad and I didn’t want to see the majority of my friends. This year I feel like I’m nearly able to function as a normal person, although I still have my occasional problems. Sometimes when I do something wrong and people point it out, lightheartedly, I still freak out and think about it nonstop for a week.
    Ughhh I honestly just can not get over this article, I relate to it so much.!!!!
    Also like just the meticulous planning of conversations, like if I think there could be a chance somebody might bring something up I have to mention something first, the idea of not being in control terrifies me. I might bring up a tough or uncomfortable situation up with somebody and be able to deal with it but if they mention it first I am completely thrown off and become super uptight and uncomfortable.
    Thought I should mention that an alternative to drugs is St Johns Wort which natural and is supposed to be super helpful for anxiety.

  • clairedh May 7th, 2013 9:56 PM

    ugh, reading this article and then scrolling through all the comments makes me want to cry.
    i completely shut down when im in an uncomfortable social situation. before every party and every shift at my cool, new fun job my stomach churns and i want to turn around and run until im back in my bed (and then go on the internet and wish i would get invited to something fun). its totally crippling.
    if i think about it all too much i feel like im crazy. how can i know how to make myself feel better but still not act on it? how is everyone else so good at being alive? do they all get together in clubs after ive said or done anything and talked about how much of a loser i am?
    blergh
    the best line of defence ive found so far is to be honest: with myself and other people. when i start to lose my mind i just tell someone i trust. i try not to think and just say it. the 99% reply is: everythings okay, its all in your head. of course i already know that but hearing it makes it real.
    i also have mass anxiety about posting comments/anything online. so, heres a long-ass nonsense comment to push myself.
    Rookie you are my wolf gang, golf wang. Thanks for everything, mostly for the space to make this ridiculous comment x

  • mingxi May 7th, 2013 11:00 PM

    “I realize now no one is thinking as hard about me as I am.”

    OH.MY.GOD
    That’s my life in a simple sentence.

    I relate SO BAD to this article.
    I don’t even know what to say know

    just

    wow

  • Aithy Palfreyman May 7th, 2013 11:28 PM

    oh wow, it’s actually kind of frightening how much like me this is. I haven’t even finished high school yet, and I’m secretly terrified of how I’m going to get by in the “real world”; at the moment I can’t even pay for stuff in the supermarket without feeling intensely (shamefully) aware of my every movement, and if I do something like drop a coin on the floor sometimes I just move on and hope desperately that nobody saw me, then beat myself up about it for ten minutes. the fact that I’m a very clumsy person and I have hearing loss makes things even worse, because of course I make a lot of mistakes… maybe I should talk to somebody :/

  • Melisa May 8th, 2013 1:19 AM

    I guess it all just comes back to the quote “you are what you think other people think you are” which is SO TRUE. At least for me. (My reaction seriously was mind=blown when a teacher wrote this quote at the beginning of class.)

    Brilliant article. Totally relatable. What helps for me is to think that I am myself and can’t be compared to other people because everyone is simply different in their own ways. I am a pimple and I accept it.

    Also, I try to gear my mind to think: “why should I care about what other people think? This is my life and I want to make the best of it.”

  • Ari May 8th, 2013 1:26 AM

    I can’t tell you how much I needed this. Thank you!!

  • Serena Head May 8th, 2013 1:44 AM

    Oh my gosh! I could relate so much. I was just thinking about social anxiety and wondering if there might be an article one day, and then THIS. Thank you so much for writing it!! You’re such a good writer. :)

  • imola May 8th, 2013 5:54 AM

    for years, I was unable to speak without crying in any situation involving me and an unknown adult person who would be an official or providing any kind of service. if I knew I had to call them for an appointment, my eyes would get teary at the mere THOUGHT of having to speak to a Big Scary Adult Who Knows Everything Best Thus Probably Wants To Eat Me Alive. it took me hours to pick up the phone and then another hour to be able to start dialing. I found it even more embarrassing in person because they would see me crying. I can’t remember how I got over that phase.

    but wanting to be perfect is still a burning issue for me. I’ve realized it’s completely out of hand and I’m trying not to think like that but it’s probably my biggest, longest, deepest struggle ever. especially because my definition of “perfect” is beyond foggy – it basically means something that I can never reach. but I’m working on it, slowly.

  • littleredridinghood May 8th, 2013 6:29 AM

    I can really relate to this, I hated ordering food or even going to the shop. I felt like everyone was looking at me or judging me. I find it really hard to take negative criticism. I burst into tears in class a few days ago and I haven’t been in school because I’m too worried what people think. :/

  • Runaway May 8th, 2013 11:18 AM

    Thank you, Rachael! :)

  • sully-bean May 8th, 2013 3:06 PM

    OH MY GOSH. ME. LITERALL ME. I feel like crying right now because suddenly I don’t feel like such a freakish loser. oh my gosh.
    i have AS level exams coming up, and I’m really struggling because last year I worked so hard and did great in all my tests and this year is so much harder and i’m completely failing and every good mark i get is overshadowed by like, a few Ds and I keep worrying that i’m going to end up dead in a gutter somewhere half eaten by wild dogs.
    when you’re hardworking and ‘just get on with it’ teachers and professors overlook you and leave you until last and because i’m such a socially awkward poop i nevereverever raise my hand in class and if i stay behind to talk then i just cry. like just burst into tears, lol. when talking about things is your problem it’s super hard to know when and how and who to go to. sigh.
    but reading this made me feel loads better because it reminded me that my worst enemy is myself, and everyone else just wants to help! and i can only try my best. thank you so much, Rachael. <3

  • emeraldruby May 9th, 2013 1:13 AM

    I’ve always felt sick in my stomach when I someone gets me in trouble or I feel like I’ve done something wrong. I remember practically every time a teacher has yelled – or not even actually yelled – at me. I always thought I was just weird like that – thank you for proving me wrong!

  • aremi.goldendust May 9th, 2013 1:32 PM

    I did an account to reply to this thread, although I’m already 25, this still happens to me a lot, but its more like I don’t want to disappoint my parents.
    I did drop out of Architecture, and now Im studying Fashion, for me was a super failure dropping out of “my” first option as a career.
    My parents in the other hand, took my “failure” really well, they didnt criticized me or stop talking to me, still I felt really bad, I went through depression for about a year.
    And now, I feel it in my relationship, I cannot help it but feel like I disappoint my bf whenever I do something Im not supposed to, even though he never shows any disappointment.
    Im such a case.
    Hopefully I will get over my “fail” complex.

    • ArmyOfRabbits May 18th, 2013 1:12 AM

      I’m around the same age range as you and I am going through the same thing as well. But I think I am getting better at trying not to please people.

  • Madeline Nelson May 9th, 2013 9:56 PM

    I am so grateful that I read this article.

    I cried when I read it, because this describes me exactly. I could never really put how I felt into words, but now I know for sure that I am a perfectionist (I have nightmares about getting A minuses, I never raise my hand for fear of having a less than brilliant answer), I have anxiety (I loathe speaking to people I don’t know very well, I can never call people on the phone) and I feel incredibly guilty about letting people down and being a failure.

    I know that people don’t care about my mistakes as much as I do, but it’s hard to live life believing that. Next I’m going to work on getting past these insecurities (this inspiring article helps a lot of course) Maybe I need a therapist, although I’d feel like a failure for needing to go to one . . .

  • Ben May 11th, 2013 2:35 AM

    wow i have bad anxiety like that too. A teacher yelled at me for walking through her class circle time and i went home and cried about it and hated her from that moment on. I will have something i will want to say to someone and i will be thinking about it for 10 minutes or so and then ill have to leave and hate myself for not telling them whatever (this happens with people i know pretty well too) and idk why, because im scared it will be awkward or something? i hate buying things or ordering food by myself, i don’t like interacting with strangers, i often hide in my room when people come over so i dont have to talk or anything, ive accidentally taken home school supplys and forgoten to bring them back and worried about it for months… I really need to change this. So thank you for this article.

    • Ben May 11th, 2013 3:03 AM

      also with classmates i never ask for help instead i just sit there and don’t do it if i don’t understand. Or if i drop my pencil under someone’s chair im not comfortable saying “hey i dropped my pencil can u pick it up?” instead i stare at until they notice and pick it up for me or i stretch my leg out and roll it out from under them with my foot or think “ill get it after class wen they stand up” but then forget about ti and never see it again :(

  • LetsGetLost2nite May 23rd, 2013 8:12 PM

    its easy to strive to want to please others, as we all want to be wanted–to be accepted; i hate being criticized, and is probably something i fear more than i am wiling to admit.

    i personally haven’t ever found there is a key to success, but i do know that the key to failure is trying to please everyone else; we live in a society where people are praised more for keeping others in mind ahead of themselves–which carries the message that you are not as important as how you present yourself to others. its almost as if society wants us to fail, i feel, because society expects us to want to please others. to avoid doing this, or to want to put yourself first (and attain any self-respect/confidence) is largely associated with being selfish–and nobody wants to be thought of as selfish, (especially girls) for it deviates from the consuming effiminte-based-sterotype. and most girls want to think of themselves and be thought of by others as having feminine qualities.

  • EastOfParis June 9th, 2013 11:40 AM

    Not only was it nice to relate to the article, but then to scroll down and see everyone else who totally understands. I’ve been handling my anxiety pretty head-on for the past year, and I have to say that getting help was the best thing that I could ever do for myself. I was put on (and am still on) mild medication, and it made a world of difference. For anyone who is hesitant to take anxiety pills, this is something my doctor told me: If you were to have a virus, we would put you on antibiotics. Your mind is sick, so we’re treating it like we would anything else. There were other things that I needed to do to help myself, some of which were quite intimidating (I still have trouble handing in job applications!) but I think that if you have anxiety, you also need to have hope. Go out there and find your solution. Don’t let fear keep you from being happy.

    Thanks for the article!

  • vanessaishere August 27th, 2013 11:57 PM

    I REALLY needed to hear this. Thanks so much. I can totally relate. I’m entering my senior year in high school and this advice truly helps. I’m still a bit scared to talk to my doctor about my anxiety, and I fear that my parents won’t take me seriously if I tell them about it, but I’m just gonna go ahead and do it!