If you know me, you would know that my main coping mechanism with high school stress was to cry. Ask any of my friends, I sent countless crying selfies on Snapchat and openly posted crying pictures on my "finsta." I cried for a variety of reasons. There were tears of pressure to do well from my high school, tears of frustration for not understanding a lesson in class, tears of exhaustion, and just typical tears of stress. But, it wasn't until my junior year where I cried tears of insecurity. My insecurities were triggered by the one and only ACT.

The beloved ACT prep begins at the beginning of junior year, which is when all the college mania starts. The college tours never drained me. I actually enjoyed them. My family always made them into fun weekend trips where we tried to find the best dessert places on campus. I never dreaded the tours like a lot of other people did at times. What I dreaded more than anything was the ACT.

I started my ACT prep in September of my junior year. To be honest, at first, it wasn't that bad. I would do different practice tests and received scores that I was pleasantly surprised and content with. I studied week after week until I took the ACT in December. I remember going into it being pretty nervous. But I got nervous before every test so I didn't really think anything of it. After the long four hours of English, math, reading, science, and writing, I was absolutely drained. I walked out thinking that it was a hard test, but I was hoping all the studying I did would pay off. At that moment in time, I knew all I could do was wait until scores came out.

A week and a half went by and scores were up. It was winter break, and I was anxious to check mine. I decided to check anyways because I wasn't going to let a number get to me. I went into my parents' room, logged onto the ACT website, and checked. I opened my score, and I was confused. The score I received was very low. I am not going to share any of the numbers, but it was well below my what I thought was an obtainable goal. My mom could see the disappointment in my face, but I played it cool and just tried not to care. But in reality, I cared and was upset.

I decided to study my butt off from January until the next test I was going to take in April. After countless weeks of studying and using every trick and skill out there, I took the test again. I felt a lot better about this one. A week in a half later scores came out. I was eager to check it. I decided to check it at school. Big mistake. I went up one point. I was horrified. At that moment in time, I didn't feel smart whatsoever. I felt defined by a number, and I most certainly didn't feel like I was good enough. I was so confused about how I could study for three and a half months and only go up one point.

So, I cried and I let it get to me. I have always felt confident with myself, but for some reason, the ACT brought out all my worst insecurities. It was so hard for me to see people done taking the test when I had to continually study. It definitely got hard for me to keep pushing myself and telling myself it would all be okay. But then it didn't feel okay. I started doubting myself and my true abilities. I felt sad. I felt stupid. I felt like I was getting nowhere and wanted to give up more than anything. I told myself I wasn't going to let a number define me. Instead, I then I started to let this silly number take over my confidence.

In the end, I never did well on the ACT. Instead, I let it get to the best of me. To this day, I still struggle with my academic confidence. School became the root of my insecurities because of the ACT. I have become very hard on myself and put an unreasonable amount of pressure on myself when it comes to school. Part of this is because I care about school and want to do well. Another part of me is still trying to prove to myself that I am smart and the ACT doesn't matter anymore. At the end of the day, the ACT has been done with for over a year and doesn't mean anything. Letting the score I received get to me is something I wish I didn't do to myself. I wish I didn't get as overwhelmed as I do, and I wish I gave myself more credit for the hard work I put into school.

Although I lose confidence in myself at times, I am working to not get so stressed and down on myself about school work. A number on a quiz, test, paper, or project does not define who we are as people. Life goes on and there is more to life than the numbers.

Here are some of my finest moments

Lizzey Erlebacher

Lizzey Erlebacher

Lizzey Erlebacher

Lizzey Erlebacher

Lizzey Erlebacher