From Perfectionism to Self-Acceptance: A Journey of Overcoming Anxiety
I grew up as the golden girl. Being the perfect student and daughter meant I couldn’t make mistakes without feeling my world was falling apart. From a young age, I was used to listening to my family’s and others’ praise for being a good example and an overachiever. My academic life always meant perfect report cards and awards. Being an exceptional daughter and student is essential to me, but growing up feeling the pressure of always having to be great, sometimes affected my mental health. Growing up with such high expectations from others caused me to become insecure and scared of failure. I couldn’t make errors without feeling I was disappointing my parents or the people around me.
At the age of 12, I was clinically diagnosed with anxiety and that made me scared. A few years after my diagnosis, I started high school. This is where my mental health reached rock bottom. My father became aware that I was becoming quiet, lonely, and more tense. The lowest point was when I noticed white spots on my hands. My mental condition started to cause physical issues as well. Then a loop started. My grades significantly dropped due to anxiety, and my anxiety started to grow due to my grades dropping.
It got so bad that I started to lose sight of reality; for months, I had trouble breathing. I remember being in my room crying and imagining my future falling apart and failing because I wasn’t reaching the expectations of others. Every time I felt scared of failure, I would have trouble breathing, to the point where I believed that I was having a heart attack. In reality this was a panic attack. This became so normal that I would experience it repeatedly throughout the day. The feeling of gasping for air is scary and may seem like an overreaction, but it felt like I was dying.
No child should fear dying when making a mistake, and for some time that was life. During a panic attack, my body goes into fight or flight and I always wanted to run away for my life. The turning point was when it happened in the car with my father. We decided to go to a doctor immediately. At that time, I was given two choices: take medication or try methods to lower anxiety.
At this point, I had to make a choice that would completely change my life. I did not want to be tied to medication from a young age, so I opted to learn helpful strategies. First, I had to accept my condition, find peace, and be aware that we all go through tough times. But we have the power to choose how to react. I understood that anxiety will be part of my life. This journey has been slow but efficient. I continue to learn and understand the person that I am. The three most important techniques for me are; the tapping technique (EFT), breathing exercises, and journaling.
I’m now a college student. Even though I continue learning how to control my anxiety, I can say that I’m comfortable with making mistakes. Never let someone else determine the path of your life. It’s okay to not be perfect, and make mistakes. The one and only person you should be trying to impress is yourself. It’s okay to have goals in life and have high expectations for yourself, but no achievement is more important than your mental health. Perfect human beings don’t exist; we all make mistakes and we all fail, but what matters is that we get up and try again. That is the most important lesson you can learn in life. It’s okay to not be okay!