Fear will hold you back. Everyone knows this. Some people use it as an excuse to behave dangerously, some people let it control them. I have spent a good amount of my life triumphing over my fear. But there is still one area where I let my fear control me. College.
I am afraid of a lot of things. I am naturally anxious and jumpy. I was in emersion therapy when I was four, that says a lot. In my life, I have overcome a lot of fears. I can distinctly remember being afraid of living past sixteen. And yet, here I am. I was afraid of recovery, and yet, here I am. But college is a looming fear that has kept me in limbo and it’s time to talk about it.
When I was young, I was put in gifted classes. Starting in third or fourth grade, I was given extra assignments and ate up knowledge like I was starving. I loved learning. My grades were excellent, my teachers joked about skipping a grade (I did not, thank god). I was routinely marked as above average or as I think my none letter grade report card said “E” for exceeding standards or something. I am not telling anyone this to brag, in fact, it would be my downfall.
Moving on to middle school brought me more advanced classes and always A’s or B’s. I liked school. I was good at school. Then here comes the disaster, freshman year. I got migraines. Every. Day. I was in agony, I missed a lot of class. I FAILED my honors math class. There was nothing I could do, I had simply missed too many classes. I had surgery, my migraines started to diminish and I did my best to salvage the year. In most classes, it simply couldn’t be done. That summer, little miss straight A’s, went to summer school. (this was extra frustrating because the honors class was accelerated, duh, so summer school only went over the first part of the year which I was there for. But anyway…) My record was left with a permanent “F” to stare and laugh at me.
Sophomore year was a mess. My mental health deteriorated from the already weak state grade 9 had left it in. I laid in bed depressed instead of going to school. If I was in class I wasn’t mentally there. By the end of the year, I was hospitalized for suicidal ideations. I got terrible grades, I couldn’t focus in class, I couldn’t catch up when I returned from the hospital, my life was falling apart. This only got worse Junior year. I was hospitalized more, I was taken from the normal student body. I ate lunch in a classroom to avoid panic attacks. I had therapy appointments with the school psychologist that took me from class. School turned into a very unsafe place for me. I would leave class and self-harm in bathroom stalls, it was ugly. The school district thought I was not a good fit for the public high school and I whole-heartedly agreed. There was nothing keeping me there. The administration did not handle my situation well. I went on tours of therapeutic schools. I picked one and transferred almost right away. Finished my junior year there and never looked back.
But here’s the thing. Despite graduating on time, and getting excellent grades when I had the right support back in place my senior year. My gpa was trashed, I had F’s and incompletes. I felt damaged. Public school had left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t feel like the same good student. I no longer thought I was smart enough for four years of college. I was afraid I would continue to fail and flounder. Add on top of that the pure anxiety I felt over living in a dorm and there was no way I was going the traditional route. I found a way to get a career started with only one course and three months of college. Best decision ever. I got a job in the field and have been happily working since.
But now, I am afraid to go to college. I have dreams that are only attainable with a minimum six years of school. There is a part of me that knows I am still smart and a great student but I am fearful. I don’t want to fall apart again. I have come too far to unravel. I want to trust myself and continue the growth I have fought for but, I am still trapped by fear. I have attempted to start taking one or two courses for three semesters in a row now. I am afraid to fail. I want to be the smart girl again, I need to excel, but I am filled with doubt.
More than the fear of failing is the fear of limbo. I don’t want to stay stuck. Because time is quicksand, if you stand still for too long, you’re going to get trapped wherever you stopped moving.
I know in my heart that what I went through was enough to send anyone into a tailspin. I know my failures were due to a lot of outside stressors. I know I was too sick to do well at the time. And I also know damn well that I am not that girl anymore. Now I am a scared girl, frantically grasping her strength and trying to keep moving forward.