Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Brief History of My Neuroticism and/or Quirks

Let's talk, shall we? Here's some background that I feel as though will help you (and me) better understand my experiences over the past year.

When I was a kid, I would get down on my self for things that weren't really a big deal. Mostly my grades. I quickly figured out that I excelled in school and sought out affirmation and approval from my teachers and parents through good grades. As a result, I put needless, endless amounts of pressure on myself throughout my school career. Because who was I if I didn't make good grades? I was no one! I wasn't pretty or popular or athletic or edgy. I was a big ol' nerd and that was my Thing. Live up to my own ideal or die.

I remember being unable to sleep one night because I thought I was going to get a “B” in a class. That’s right. A “B.” Not a “D” or an “F.” A “B.” And I was pretty young at this point. Probably in the 5th or 6th grade. After tossing and turning for what felt like hours, I got up and wrote a big, long note for my mom to find in the morning. The missive was about a friend who had gotten a “B” on a test and not that many “A’s” on her homework, and she was wondering if she could still get an “A” average the class? I was so sly. It’s a wonder my mom ever saw through such a complicated ruse. My mom, being the loving and kind woman that she is, assured me over and over and over again that “B DID NOT EQUAL BAD.” I disagreed. Wholeheartedly. (I wound up getting the “A” in that class, by the way. Anything less was unthinkable.)

I feel as though it’s important to note that I held no one else to these ridiculous standards. My friends could get whatever grades they wanted. I didn’t care. Good for them! I envied them and their ability to let stuff go and just live their lives so carefree. Meanwhile I was doing math in my head over what kind of grades I needed to get and hording poetry about death and wearing black. Like that Edgar Allen Poe guy. He was so dark. He knew how life sucked. He understood. (Insert eyeroll here.)

My freshman year of high school, I struggled in Geometry. I had to work very, very hard to squeak a “B” average in the class. I went to tutoring during lunch and was constantly asking my teacher and friends for help. I just wasn’t getting the subject matter and I was distraught. And I do mean DISTRAUGHT. One morning, the stress and guilt took over me and I completely and totally lost it on the way to school. My mom was still driving me to school at the time and she did her best to comfort the blubbering, red faced mess in the passenger seat. I became so hysterical by the time we reached school that she drove through the circular driveway in front of the school and went home. And people, my mom NEVER LET ME MISS SCHOOL. EVER. She always made me go even when I felt really sick. You know what I’m talking about? One of those mean “throw up or go to school” moms. So for her to think that I was too upset to go to class means that I was TOO UPSET TO GO TO CLASS.

Social situations were not much better. I was a wreck before we went to church EVERY SINGLE TIME. And we went to church A LOT. Every Wddnesday night. Twice on Sundays. I went on countless youth group activities and trips. And I thought I was going to throw up each and every time I entered the church doors. Social anxiety, much? Basically, I was scared of people. Like, SCARED of them. I'm not sure what I thought they were going to do to me. These were, after all, NICE people. No one in the youth group was ever mean to me or bullied me. And yet, I was terrified of half of the group. Things got better as I got older, but I could never shake that anxiety. Even as a senior in high school, the time when I was supposed to be at ease and happy to be the oldest, I was still so nervous before any type of social activity. And don't even get me STARTED on the stresses of where to sit in church after youth choir. Talk about a social nightmare.

By the time I entered my senior year of high school, I felt stuck in my role as the quiet, shy, smart girl. I was determined to go far, far away from these people and start over. There are a few other reasons I wanted to head out, but the main reason was to discover myself. Even I knew I was stifling myself in my hometown. And it was time to move on and conquer my social and academic fears on my own.


Mel said...

Oh my gosh are you sure you're not writing about me:) Love you Cora!

Gina said...

sorry again for terrifying you!! :-P

philly said...

You hid it well! I had no clue it was that bad for you. (And I laughed about the 'where to sit after youth choir' - so hear ya on that one!