Driven By Anxiety

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Driven By Anxiety

Postby angiej » Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:43 pm

My classmates at undergrad call me "Angie the anxiety-driven college student." Though not medically-diagnosed, it is clear that part of my success stems from intense study habits and obsessiveness - which is driven by my anxiety. I don't think I have EVER felt totally prepared for anything, despite being the most prepared of my class. I have always felt anxiety about test taking or big papers, or any assignment for that matter.

My anxiety may be stemmed from my lack of confidence in myself. For one, no one in my family has ever pursued secondary education. In fact, half did not graduate high school. None of them seem to regret this decision and to most of my family, college seems like a big waste of time. I get a lot of eye-rolls when I mention school related topics during thanksgiving dinner or a lot of "why are you wasting your time" questions when I complain about the lack of free time I have. For the first 2 1/2 years of undergrad I maintained my full-time employment I had prior to attending school (4 years after high school graduation).

Secondly, my high school gpa was somewhere around a "D" average. I was suspended in middle school for fighting with another girl, expelled from my first high school for skipping class (to avoid tests and homework assignments I did not prepare for or complete), and while attending my second high school I was asked to attend that high school's "alternative" school where I completed classes by watching lectures on computer, then testing via multiple choices. I would always fail the first test, but write down the correct answers, and then on the second attempt at the test simply fill in the correct answers. I did not attend my high school graduation and I'm not sure anyone else in my family would have either.

My mother's philosophy was always that if I was pretty there was no need to be smart. And, apparently, she thought I was pretty. She enrolled me in every pageant she could from age 6 months to 18 years. I earned a good chunk of change doing this and instead of that money being put into a college fund for me, it was spent on cars, horses, and a down payment on my first house at 18. Others thought I was spoiled. I hated my life.

Needless to say, I had quite a few hurdles to jump to make it through my undergraduate program. For one, I have had to take every kind of prerequisite course there is. This would make it extremely challenging for me to finish undergrad in 4 years. Secondly, the only school that would admit me was the satellite branch of my state university, and even still I was admitted on "probationary status." Thirdly, since I had jumped into a mortgage at age 18 I had to continue working full-time to keep myself and my husband (who has worked less than half of our marriage) afloat.

So when I do well on a test or paper, in the back of my mind, I think "wow I was lucky on that one, but eventually your luck is going to run out." I can honestly say I never give myself credit when credit is due. I study excessively for a test for fear that the truth is going to come out - that I'm not really that smart or worthy of a college degree.

Anxiety - fear of failure - fear of proving my family right (that I'm not that smart) drives me to succeed.

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