I struggle with putting too much pressure on myself. I've done it for years. I don't expect too much from others, but I put an unrealistic and often unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to overachieve. Even when I do overachieve, I sometimes feel like I should have done more. I expect myself to be perfect or to accomplish things that are not really within my current capabilities. However, I am growing, especially this semester in learning to enjoy the moment and "be" instead of pushing myself to attempt more than I can accomplish.

I think that this self-induced pressure may stem from a feeling that I am not enough. I have worked to overcome this feeling, but there have been multiple occasions in the past few years where I put all of my hope into accomplishing a specific goal. I tied my entire identity and self-worth to particular events, and when I failed or didn't get what I expected, I broke. I broke down both mentally and emotionally because I failed to meet my own expectations, which resulted in me believing that I was a failure and could not accomplish anything.

I've found it weird that I have this fear and pressure that I put on myself. No one else has ever pressured me. My family has been undyingly supportive of my passions, and they have never put force on me to overachieve or be more than I am, for which I am eternally grateful. I know that I would never be able to be who I am without their support. So why do I expect so much from myself? Why do I destroy myself with unachievable standards? I believe that it is a mixture of fear and anxiety.

I fear not being enough. I fear being a failure, being rejected by others, and never accomplishing anything with my life. Even though I know that I am not a failure, I set unrealistic expectations because underneath, I think I still fear becoming one. I believe that this is likely rooted in Social Anxiety, (or Social Phobia) something that I believe I have struggled with for several years. Now when I say Social Anxiety, I don't mean that I am shy. I am far from shy. I am an incredibly friendly person with solid communications skills who enjoys talking to people. However, I still struggle with anxiety, especially in social situations. I fear people thinking I am a joke or a bother to them, even when I know that they care about me. Additionally, I will often avoid or feel anxious during conversations or social interactions. And it's not just feeling anxious; It's anxiety: strange, uncontrollable fear and stress which is difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it, though over 15 million people in the United States struggle with social anxiety.

Fortunately, I have been able to grow a lot, especially in the past year and semester. I still struggle with it every day, even if it is subconscious, but I have significantly progressed in addressing, confronting, and overcoming my anxiety. I am working to understand myself better and build my confidence and realize that I am not a burden to people. Theatre has been especially helpful this semester both through becoming friends with the people in the department and because acting forces me to get outside of my head and live in the moment. Overcoming anxiety is a process, and I know that it will be with me for a long time, if not always. There are days when it is worse than others, but when I feel overwhelmed, I need to let go and give it to God. Unlike I unwittingly tell myself, I don't have to prove that I am "enough" or perfect. I am enough, and I have always been enough. What I do need to do is live in the moment and not worry about things that I cannot control. I just need to be.

To anyone else struggling with social anxiety, or any other form of anxiety, know that you are not alone, that you are enough, and that you are loved.