Fearfully Limited

Fear influences almost every moment of my life. Questions and ideas, driven by fear, constantly run through my mind. What if I don’t get a perfect score on my test? What if I don’t get into medical school?  What if everyone thinks I hate them? What if everyone hates me? I am consumed by thoughts in my own world.

Ever since I can remember, I have been overly anxious, but only recently was I diagnosed with social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder. I have decided to try to minimize fear’s influence on my life. I aim to overcome the fears that limit me academically and personally. 

In my behavioral neuroscience class last summer, I learned that a certain amount of fear is normal to avoid real dangers. When the sympathetic nervous system and amygdala, the emotion response center of the brain, are overactivated, an abnormal level of anxiety presents. The fear that keeps me from taking the elevator because of people seeing me is abnormal. I have an anxiety disorder, and so do a large portion of other people, but even people without this disorder have unhealthy fears.

Do you have any unhealthy fears? Perfectionism, which is a common trait among college students, can be unhealthy. We have to realize that as human beings, we make mistakes. It’s easier said than done, however we should not obsess over past mistakes or the possibility of making mistakes in the future. I am trying my best to not obsess over receiving perfect scores on tests or maintaining a 4.0 GPA, but instead try to enjoy learning. Instead of worrying about being awkward, I will try to realize that I have social anxiety but can become less anxious by exposing myself to more social situations.

    Facing your fears may sound cliche in college, despite most of us having at least one unhealthy fear that we should face. Facing unhealthy perfectionism may be yours. Although the fears may always be there to some degree, the goal should be to minimize the negative effect of them on your life. I may be overly fearful of asking a teacher for a recommendation letter, yet, isn’t it better to have fear and a recommendation letter than fear of not asking and no recommendation letter? I would think the former is better. As Judy Blume says, “Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” 

I for one do not want to be limited by my perfectionism and social fears. I will work to minimize the impact of my fears on my life. I hope this inspires you to do the same.