I feel like I'm still at the bottom of the mountain, but I know where I am, I know how to get out--but I haven't taken enough steps.
This has been my answer to the "how are you doing, really?" question for the past few months. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with some level of depression and self-doubt. I try not to let it define me because I don't believe it's final, I don't believe it's that important to my story. It's a fact of my life, but I'm not introducing myself as "hi, I'm Johanna and I'm anxious."
No, I much rather let my vision and purpose define me. Hi, I'm Johanna and I really, really want to bring light into the world and make someone smile.
It's a tendency for me to become so focused on my disadvantages because it means a commonality with others, than my strengths which may create a barrier. I'm continually trying to curb the things that keep me from achieving my goals. I am so often terrified of failure that it will consume me. When failure inevitably happens, I am crushed. That's no way to live, and I refuse to continue in that cycle.
I'm learning that failure is necessary, that it's essential to growth. Failure tests my limitations, it forces me to create new boundaries and redefine my horizon. School was difficult for me growing up and I have been determined not to find those same problems in my college career. Math was and has continued to be my most fearsome oe, and sciences beyond social leave me grasping for some kind of familiarity to hold to. I was nervous about an exam a few weeks ago, and with good reason-- I was taking it for the second time and wanting desperately to pass. Failing it the first time discouraged me in so many ways. It didn't matter that the previous exam was fun, or the proceeding ones left me energized and wanting more-- I was stuck on this thought: "I tried my hardest, and I failed." Coming back to it for the second time made me fearful, and anxious. I hardly slept, my eyes sunk deep into dark circles and always at the back of my mind was a nagging.
I cried into Noble's shirt the day before the exam. "Do your best, and your best is enough," He told me, and for some reason, it actually hit home. It's not like I don't know these things. I coach myself through every other problem in my life using the same verbiage. I'm kind to myself in every other way but scholastically. So I dried my tears, I blew my nose. I tried to keep my bottom lip from quivering as I looked up into my boyfriends face and tried to smile and say, "Okay, if you say so."
That night I journaled a lot and realized, success defined by pass or fail is not definable.
I can't succeed where I have not allowed failure.
From that point I've been climbing out of whatever pit I was in. Yeah, the idea of failure makes me feel a little sick. It makes my skin prickle and my face hot. But that's not where the story ends. When my grade did pop up on my screen after 90 minutes of testing saying that yet again I had not passed, I smiled. "You know what?" I told the girl who works at the testing facility that I knew I tried my hardest, I knew I did the best I possibly could have done. This isn't a setback, I just know more of what I need to work on.
So, Johanna, how are you doing, really?
You know, friend. I'm doing alright. It's a privilege to have the ability to be anxious, it shows that I do, truly care. It's a blessing to have failure-- because without it I can not know when I've done well. Truth is, I'm overcoming a lot more than I'm stuck in. Old social anxieties don't hold me back any longer. Fear of public opinion doesn't keep me from persuing what I know I can do. I know what my worth is, and I know that eventually all of this will mean something great. I'm glad I'm learning to enjoy it.