The worry that consumes

Student finds acceptance in his true self


Photo by Victoria Van

Story by Joseph Asher, staff writer

The thoughts and constant eye glares built up inside me. Filtering through my mind was an array of ideas on how they perceived me. I took a second to breathe, breathing through the pressure of anxieties I placed on myself, anxieties that tore me apart. It was my first day of public school. A school where I was surrounded by people who were complete strangers.

It’s always the people I don’t know that make me self-conscious, forcing me into a shell that shields my personality and brings out a different side of me. Constant worry of how they judge me is all I can reside on. A quality that I possess, a quality that brings me down.

Growing up, I went to a small private school. A school where a class of 20 was rare. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. It wasn’t until I entered public school that I began to obsess over what people thought of me, resulting in a set mode of hiding and allowing silence to overcome me. I thought that by not talking, the embarrassment wouldn’t have the chance to present itself.

Origins of this mental block probably came from years of people ridiculing my voice and inability to produce “r” sounds accurately. But with time, my speech impediment went away, and my voice got lower. For some reason, however, the anxiety was still there, caught in a web of personal opinions I created, opinions I believed people already had on me. Opinions that no one actually had.

The brief period of name calling had some minor effect on me. Somehow I let people dictate how I acted and who I hung around with. The fear of those words that were constantly thrown at me is why I cared so much. It kept me stuck in this idea that I couldn’t be myself without peers commenting and picking on me.

I soon came to the realization that it really doesn’t matter what people think of me. Their opinions are for them, opinions that weren’t true unless I wanted them to be. Breaking through this wall that I had built up was incredible. I could finally stop the obsession of worry and focus on my life the way I wanted to live it.

I thought that by not talking, the embarrassment wouldn’t have the chance to present itself.”

— Asher

The idea that people are always judging you is evident all throughout life; it’s inevitable. The constant name-calling and bullying will never find its end. These ideas are what I found to be most helpful in guiding me toward the path of not caring anymore. I had spent a majority of my life walking around presenting people with this false identity, an identity that I believed people would favor over my own.

I came out of my shell, and who I really am has finally found its way to the light. Now all I care about is what matters in life, not the insensitive thoughts those around me think, not the way people perceive me. I’m grateful that I came to these senses so early, because if I hadn’t, I would still be hiding behind the wall of insecurities and false identities.

It was the eye glares and thoughts of others that would build up inside me. The opinions of those I didn’t know that affected my life with great deal. It was caring about what people thought of me that created my anxiety. The key word being “was.” Today I have overcome this problem within myself, and I’m no longer obsessing over those thoughts. I can finally just be me without any worries in the world.