Monday, June 9, 2014

What if I Fail?

Today I am going back to school by beginning summer classes at a local college. It's been over six months since I've been taking classes, so this day is provoking a lot of anxiety in me because it's been so long. The questions are dancing around my head like crazy this morning. What if I've forgotten how to study? What if my brain can't handle learning new things just yet? What if I relapse into more intense depression or ED behaviors? 

What if I fail? 

I have a huge fear of failure. Failure, to me, means that I am not good enough, not worthy, not smart enough, not talented enough--not enough. I define my success in the academic world by how high my GPA is and how many As I get, but even that does not quell my anxieties. My high standards continually get in the way. School fuels my perfectionism, and my perfectionism fuels my eating disorder. 

And then there's the question of how I am I going to manage being in school again? I can't resort to the habits I picked up the year and a half I spent at Gettysburg because those obviously got me nowhere. How do I manage the stress? What if it gets too overwhelming? What if I'm not smart enough? 

What if I fail?

Ultimately, it all comes back to that one question. This time, it seems there is so much more put onto my successful completion of my summer courses because they are my test of whether I truly am ready to return to my education full-time come fall. If I fail at this, then I fail to be a student, fail to be who I truly am, and it seems, fail at life. 

My identity has always been so wrapped up in my education that when I left school for treatment, I had a hard time separating who I am from my life as a student. Now that I am returning to the academic world, my identity is once again starting to become my test scores, my grades, my success in the classroom. If I fail, who then would I be? 

The other thing causing me great anxiety is stepping into a room full of unknown people. The questions will be racing through my mind. What do they think of me? Am I okay? Do I fit in here? Do they like me? Will I make friends? Will I say something stupid in front of them? Are they judging me? These are the same insecurities I have always felt on the first day of every school year. 

My summer classes are going to test my abilities to really control my perfectionism and my eating disorder. I need to remember that failing is okay, that not having all the answers correct is okay. I need to remember that I am not my education, my GPA, or how many answers I get correct. I need to remember that this is about learning and progress and not about perfection. I need to remember that what other people think of me is none of my business. I need to remember to stop asking "What if I fail?" and to ask a different question.

What if I fail?  
What if I succeed? 

Happy First Day of Summer Classes!