Over the course of my life I have seen myself become much more nervous when tackling certain tasks than I ever was when I was younger. Perhaps when I was younger I never thought about not doing well. I had such lofty expectations for everything that I did.
However, life has a way of teaching you to be mindful of being overconfident. I remember my first major bout with that was in junior high school. I was on the debate team, the affirmative rebuttalist. Our school took part in the Lincoln Douglas debates. I was in the eighth grade at that point. I loved to debate and thought nothing of getting on a stage and stating my very well defined opinion on whether community service should be mandatory for high school students. Obviously I was on the affirmative team, which I didn't have a choice on. Our teacher placed us according to the strengths of our arguments.
So my best friend Kevin was on the opposing team. Our two teams sparred in front of our classmates to prepare us for the debates. I had the last moment in the sunshine. I had the opportunity to take notes while everyone else was speaking, especially the opposing team's rebuttalist. I mantained my composure and picked their argument apart and then read off of my cards.
Round 1 was amazing. If there was an MVP I would have received it. I received a lot of praise. For the first time in the history of the debates two teams, both from I.S. 320, went on to the second round.
At that point I became very cocky. I felt we had the strongest team. Our coach said that we should be a shoe in to make the borough championships. Unfortunately, I missed the layup. I was well prepared, but I had the first anxiety attack in my life. I saw one minute when there was really three left. So instead of being poised after finishing attacking the opposing teams' arguments I sped through what I had to say and when I finished I saw one minute left. I'd never experienced anything like that. I was a good sport though. My friend Kevin's team went on to the borough championships. I gave them encouragement. The hardest part of the ordeal was when everyone said we were the strongest team in the round. I had costed us the game.
I have had a few anxiety attacks since then, not too frequent. I have learned to conquer those demons for the most part, but there are certain things that make them more likely to flare up. Perhaps taking a test that I know that I should do well on but others telling me to be careful, or speaking in a room full of strangers before I'm sufficiently relaxed. It's a strange sensation when you know you have the tools to succeed, but your mind and it's insecurities have the power to take you down.
All I can do is tell myself to relax, and if I fail at something hopefully I'll do better the next time (but never forget that the object is to get the goal in the basket the first time around--and if you miss grab the rebound to put it back up).