Anxiety is a frequent companion for most teenagers. And when it sets up shop in your brain, it steals your prize.
At school, your palms sweated when the teacher called you to give an answer in front of the class; your heart was pounding like a drum in your chest as you were walking up to the girl you wanted to ask out; your throat choked up when you had a feeling the teacher might accuse you of cheating on the mid-term exam; or a stomach ache just before your first presentation at the science fare.
To realize how anxiety will keep you from your prize if you do not stop it.
It does not matter how old you are; rich or poor; what color your skin is; or what language you speak. Good ‘ole anxiety does not discriminate. Think of it this way,
- You want to go to the dance Friday night.
- You have no date.
- What are you going to do?
- The girl and the dance are ultimately the prize you are seeking.
- Then anxiety kicks in and tries to steal away your prize.
- Simple, anxiety makes you so afraid that you can’t speak, you have a stomach ache, your face is flushed, your palms are sweaty, and you get “cold feet”.
- If you want to own that prize, you have to fight off negative self-talk, loneliness, uncertainty, fear of failure and the list goes on.
A problem with your hands
The bridge between marching season in high school and regular band during my freshman year of high school, was like nothing I had experienced. After marching band was over, I switched from percussion to clarinet. No big deal, right? Wrong.
There was only one senior in the entire band…and she played clarinet. This meant she automatically would be first chair clarinet until a challenge. This is where we choose a “seat” in our individual sections. The people challenging and being challenged would have the same music selected before hand to play for that seat.
We had a substitute band teacher at that time. She set up a chair challenge. The point of the challenge was to perform for the seat you wanted. Of course I went for it! I was never last chair, second during a concert maybe, but majority of the time, I was first. I found my prize! Now where is the anxiety?
On the day of the challenge, I tried not to think about it. I had practiced my fingers off and was ready.
The challenge was in front of the entire band. I played first since I was the challenger. A chance to sit in the most covetous sea in the clarinet section! I wiped my sweaty hands onto my jeans before picking up my instrument. It felt as if something supernatural happened after I began the music selection. I closed my eyes or was in a trance and let my fingers do the playing. I did not remember even one note I played.
When it was her turn, she simply choked. I did feel horrible for her. I knew then like I know now, she was an extremely talented clarinet player in high school. Anxiety must have made her fingers feel like lead weights. At the same time, anxiety propelled me forward.
Winning against anxiety
Your fight might be in the rugby team, track, football team, swim team, chess club, physics club, third period French or any myriad of opportunities to push against anxiety and win. If I flaked and did not challenge her, I would never known what I was capable of. Anxiety is tough, but focusing on the prize and not the fear, makes everything work out.