Did someone turn the air off?
Her hands won’t stop shaking. Neither will her breath.
Ten minutes. Her chest had spent the past ten minutes getting tighter and tighter.
It was as if the walls around her were closing in. Pushing against them won’t work.
Pressure was building. The volcano ready to explode.
She sat in front of stacks of paper, books and stationary which was designed to motivate her. The cute designed paper only increased panic. Slapping a unicorn and cute quote on the page did nothing to calm her.
It was like life was currently in the middle of throwing an avalanche at her. Study, family, relationships were caving around her.
The stress intense, the messy bun high.
Her pen against the desk a beat for her frustration. She needed to pass this test. It was the difference between failure and success to her.
What if she did fail! She had placed every egg she had in the failure basket already. Her parents would be disappointed, her friends would look at her like she was stupid and worse she’d sink further into doubt.
She’d told herself she’d fail. Now her brain was finding the evidence to prove that true.
Biting her lip she struggles to focus on her flashcards. The words rearrange in her mind to spell out failure. She can’t envision a possibility of success because her mind had convinced her it wasn’t doable.
With the stress of her study she lets questions of self worth float around her head in between the terminology and definitions she’d been memorising.
College had been difficult recently. She’d considered quitting a few times a week. Her thoughts of quitting had jumped from monthly. She felt as if she was stuck up shit creek without a paddle.
Her marks had only been decent in her opinion. Probably above average to everyone else. Probably not a worry to anyone else. To her it defined her.
She looked up at her family photos. Her siblings smiled back at her. Both of them hadn’t received a college education. She was the first to get to this level.
Tears now dropped onto the paper below her as she cradled her head in her hands. Hunched over her desk, loneliness made itself at home inside her heart.
What was she going to do?
She couldn’t pass this exam.
It didn’t matter how hard she studied.
Her family expected more from her than she could give them.
Thoughts were swallowing her.
As she breathes in she doesn’t remember to breathe out. Her chest constricts. Panic takes away each breathe out. The crying doesn’t offer much relief.
“Did someone turn the air off?” She whispers to herself.
Closing her eyes, lost to anxiety, she doesn’t notice the hand on her back. Her mother. Her support.
She counts down from ten as instructed. Her mother’s warm hand takes hers reassuringly. A quick and gentle squeeze begins her journey back to earth.
“Talk to me. I’m here to listen.”
Her mother’s eyes are concerned but they show dedication to understanding.
As if floodgates have been opened, tears pour out. Her mother’s arms protect her. Just like when she was small. The strong support system was a barrier to the anxiety.
Her mother listens nodding and keeping eye contact. She explains her fears and anxiety the best she can. Unsure of all the answers her mother tries.
She’d studied hard. Even if she didn’t know all of the answers she had tried. No mark would ever reflect her worth. Each failure brings her closer to a success. No giant red F could bring the world to an end. It’s a new challenge. An opportunity. A chance to ask for more help and feedback to grow.
Being scared is normal but we’re never given more than we can face.
Her mother’s advice and wisdom sits with her for a second.
“You can overcome this.”
It’s not too long until her mother has left her daughter to continue to study. She still feels a sense of fear but she has stopped questioning her ability to overcome it.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling fear toward things in life. Others might see this exam as insignificant. It’s what she made it mean. A gentle push from family, a friend or even a pet can reminds her what the fight is actually for. Taking a time out to remember her ‘why.’
Her thought of ‘I’m going to fail’ replaced with ‘you can overcome this’ led her to a more comfortable feeling. She wouldn’t let fear stop her from her chance at aiming for the stars.
She’d created worst case scenarios in her mind convincing herself of their certainty.
No matter what the mark on that exam when her professor hands it back she’d have succeeded. Her thoughts weren’t going to stand between her and what she wanted.
Someone had turned the air off. She was in control of the switch.
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