I fall short because that’s all I know

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I don’t generally consider myself an anxious person, just someone prone to anxiety. Which sounds a little ridiculous, I know. But every year, my anxiety has been getting worse and worse to the point that I drift from day to day, so paralyzed by all the various anxieties clouding my mind that I literally can’t do anything.

I’m sorry I’m not very regular with my posts. I’m really surprised that anybody is actually finding my blog and reading it so I just want to thank you all for taking the time out of your busy lives to read my clumsy words. It may sound a bit vain, but I can’t write without an audience because after all, if your words reach no one, then what good are they?

Though can I just ask one thing? I live in the US, so American readers don’t surprise me, but Switzerland, why are you second in my “Top Views by Country” stats? I’m sorry if you’re offended but it just surprises how anyone in Switzerland would find my blog, much less visit it to that extent. Does that make sense? I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

A shoutout to my British, Dominicans, French, Argentinian, Russian, Colombian, and Pakistanian readers as well. Though you last four only visited once, I still thought I should hi at the very least.

Thanks for coming by. I appreciate you all, I really do, and it warms me that my words are interesting in some way across borders.

Anyway, I’m going to continue with my original rant. In my opinion, it’s always better to expel negativities in some way rather than brood on them.

Like I said, I don’t perceive myself as an anxious person but I’m starting to realize that I am. And there’s a lot of areas where that anxiety stems from but a good lot of them trace back to my perfectionism.

Ahaha, what a joke! Me, a perfectionist? My family would laugh straight in your face, spit and all. But this one teacher whom I respect greatly, who has so much faith in me and my abilities more than anyone I’ve ever met, has called me out on more than one occasion about my perfectionism.

(Just a tangent, but I have to record this somewhere before it hazes away in my memory. When I expressed to him my desire to become a writer/screenwriter, but that I don’t know if I can become a successful one, he responded, no hesitation, “You can. And I’ll keep telling you that as many times as you want.”I mean, a lot of people have told me I’m good, but no one who’s had such an unshakable belief that I can do it, that I should do it. Call me melodramatic, but how can you not cry after something like that?)

And then some time ago, I read “The Birth Order Book” by Dr. Kevin Leman, and you might think the whole birth order personality thing might be a load of bull, but there were too many notes that struck a little too close to home. I cried a couple times reading that book because I felt so understood by this person who’s never met me. Ahahaha, I sound like the crap co-star of a soap opera or teen chic flick.

Now, I’m not blaming all my anxiety problems on my birth order or how I was raised because I do believe I was born with that tendency, but I do think there is some truth in the idea that my family may have had a major role in exaggerating it. (I think I’m being a bit too equivocating here but oh well, it’s not like I’m trying to draft the greatest argument in history.)

Here’s a link with a large general summary, but basically firstborns (which could mean the actual first child, the first of their gender, or a “quasi” first due to an age gap over 7 years) are perfectionists, middle children are mediators, and lastborn are entertainers. My explanation is a gross oversimplification so don’t take it as the final word.

One of the biggest points Dr. Leman brings up in his book, though, is how healthily striving for excellence can quickly turn into anxious struggle for perfection depending on how your parents raise you.

All my life, I’ve felt useless and nothing but a failure, that my accomplishments don’t mean anything and that I always make mistakes. 

I know logically that this sort of mentality is illogical and only fulfilling the untruth, but it’s hard to shake it off when that’s how your family has treated you.

It’s hard to know the value of your own accomplishments if your family brushes them off. My parents are from Japan so they don’t really understand the American grading system and my brother is smarter than me so I guess it can’t be helped, but it is a bit discouraging if all they do is smile and say, “That’s cool.” (I mean, is getting on the Dean’s List a big deal?)

I have a lot to live up to. My dad is a world famous neurosurgeon and my older brother is the family “genius” who can do anything and not break a sweat. But always being treated and coddled and scolded and looked after as the baby of the family is not exactly confidence-inducing, is it?

“People make mistakes. We’re only human. Learn from your past failures.” Those sort of things are always being said everywhere, and the basic idea is that you should learn to live and accept failure when you do trip but always try to do your best.

But I don’t even want to try my best if I’m only going to be scolded for my scraped knees if I fall.

(Actually, that analogy really did happen all the time when I was little. It wasn’t “Are you okay? Do you need a bandaid?” when I tripped and fell, but “Oh my god, look at your clothes, what did you do, that’s why you need to be holding my hand, okay? You have to listen to what I say because I’m older and know better.” I trust you can see the difference.)

The other day, it might seem incredibly petty and trivial to you, but my mom told me to warm the stew on low heat, periodically stirring it to make sure it didn’t burn. Well, I also had a time sensitive assignment I had to write and submit online so I thought I would work on that while I stirred. I shuffled between the stove and computer, stirring for about a minute every 2-3 minutes, maybe 4. At one point, my mom caught me when I had just returned to the computer and yelled that I wasn’t watching the stew. Which stung because I was (I kept track of the time), and her comment meant that she didn’t trust me to do a good job. Then my brother came over and just took over which stung even more.

This always happens. Yes, I’m lazy so I do a half-assed job sometimes so my mom yells at me and then my brother takes over. But the other times, I am trying to do a good job, which isn’t good enough for my mom so my brother takes over.

I don’t understand why doing something my way automatically makes it “bad”. If the result is just as good, why does it matter?

You might be thinking I’m taking lazy shortcuts or something, but if I do take shortcuts, it’s not out of laziness but because I have other stuff I need to do.

I’m making no sense, I’m sorry for that.

Or another example. I’m working towards my license, but I’m getting so scared and anxious over driving that I don’t even know if I want it anymore. And I get more scared each time I drive.

My heart thuds so badly now that I get a worse shock from approaching cars than I do from horror movies.

I was fine during my driving lessons. It’s just when I drive with my mom that I seem to make so many mistakes that I’m sure I’m going to crash every second.

My mom screaming all the time is certainly not helping. Or the constant stream of “What are you doing?” remarks.

I’m so scared of driving now that I’m feeling nauseous just thinking about it right now.

Fuck this. Why am I even trying?

Sorry to make you read all that crap.

Here’s the long and short of it all.

I’m upset because my family expects me to fall short and fail. And on the occasions when I do, instead of helping me up so I can try again, they just complain about the mess I made and that like always, I can’t do anything.

I’m probably just being melodramatic but I’m tired of feeling so fucking insecure all the time. I want to take confidence from my accomplishments, to learn from my mistakes and move on, but I just can’t. The psychological block is as tangible as a damn brick wall.

If you’re here for the stories, don’t worry, I’m working on one right now. I’m going to try to post it within the next two weeks. Sorry for the wait.

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