I don't know why this suddenly came up tonight, but I just think that it is time that I tell this story. It's probably not going to be very inspiring. It's just a story, of what happened during the worst year of my life.
Now, I've mentioned that my sophomore year of high school was a time that I really struggled with shyness. But it was so much more than that. I nearly let myself completely fade away. Part of it, I think I can blame on the pressure. There's always been a lot of it. It comes with that first little certificate they give you for honor roll in elementary school. It's basically put on the required reading list for every Honors class, every gifted program every college resume padding extra curricular. Especially when you are the oldest child in a family that was never given the chance to go to college despite their talents. It falls on you, to be the first one. The one to realize the dream that they were all deprived of. To be the example for the one's younger than you. And I really can't blame my parents. Yes, they wanted me to get A's. So what? I had the talent and skill to get A's. Some of the pressure was them, but a lot of it was me. I had to be that person who was the best, the most intelligent, the one with the highest score, and the most well-written essay. I wanted to be that, and I feared that I wouldn't be.
I think now, I can say where it started. At least, I have a guess. I was called down to see my counselor. I was told that I was the top-ranked girl in my grade (I think I ranked third overall) and because of that I had been registered for a student-leader program in Cleveland. I remember being really excited. My Mom told me that it meant I had a really good chance at being Valedictorian, and I began to imagine how amazing that could be.
But then I went to the program, hopes high. But I didn't feel inspired, or like a leader at all; I felt lost. I was in a room of hundreds of students and all I could feel was a paralyzing fear. I couldn't talk to anyone. I stumbled through the ice breakers and woodenly followed my group from place to place. I watched my counter-part, the top male student from our school as he traveled through the group, networking like a pro. But I couldn't even keep a conversation going with him. We had been in classes together since the first grade. I barely spoke at all and I don't remember a word of what we discussed. I remember we went on a tour of Cleveland, which was supposed to be cool, but all I remember was wanting to go home. I think that might have been where I gave up.
I was shaken. I realized that there was a really good chance that I would never be that ideal, perfect student, perfect leader. Suddenly, all I could see was competition. I watched as everyone around me seemed to excel in every respect, while I just seemed to fade away. So, I gave up. And I don't want to admit it, but I did. I stopped turning in work. It was a grasp for control, I guess. And it was terrible. Because I had the skills to do well, I had the time and I just didn't care.
And then, Miss-top-of-her-class nearly failed a class. There were so many arguments. I remember fighting constantly with my parents because I couldn't explain why I had stopped trying. I only have an idea now, and who can say if I'm even right? I remember being to the point of outright panic over school, yet I would continue to dig the hole deeper.
And I lied. To so many people. I lied to my parents about my grades. I lied to my teachers about the missing work. I lied to my friends about what was going on. I hate to admit how much I lied. It was almost a reflex. Lie, don't admit that you're hurting, don't admit that you've failed. Just lie.
Eventually, the panic got to be too much. A panic attack before school. Too many night sobbing after fighting with my parents over grades. So much dread every time grades were even mentioned. Too much lying to my friends to hide what was going on. Too much withdrawing from everyone around me.
So, I fixed everything the best I could. I got my grades to a reasonable point. I went on a mission trip with my church and took the first step towards shaking some of my shyness. I started to talk to some of my friends again. I got over it.
But, in a way I didn't. Because as I write this, I still regret what happened just as much. I still sometimes feel this crashing pressure to fulfill expectations that I don't even remember creating. And sometimes I still feel incomplete because I didn't fulfill all of my dreams for my high school career, even though it's time that was in the past.
So, sometimes, that's why becoming this stronger person is so scary. Because if I do, that means that I can't hide anymore. There will be people who see who I am and may put their expectations. It means that people might see me fail and most of all, it means that I probably can't hide a breakdown like I did my sophomore year. People will notice, and that's terrifying.
And comforting, I think. Because maybe that means that it won't go as far as it did last time. Maybe it won't happen at all. I can hope. And maybe I'll finally be able to let go and not feel guilty about that wasted year. If I can get over it, it won't seem so wasted.
I don't really have a wrap-up here, or a point. All I know is that I tried so hard to hide this when it happened and it only made it worse. So here's one more story I had planned to never tell. Maybe if I can tell them all I won't be afraid to tell any of the new ones.
That's all for now,