It’s Ok to Be a Scaredy-Cat: You Just May Succeed

Kaitlyn - Pasadena, California
Entered on February 3, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: fear
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Fear of failure creates the anxiety that leads me towards success. I sit nervously in my chair as I wait for my English teacher to pass out my final exam. My hands are clammy, and my stomach is in knots. The pencil in my hand quivers as I wait for my teacher, Mrs. Z, to tell me to begin. As I start the test, my brain goes into full force, driven by apprehension and adrenaline, and determined to answer the questions correctly. My brain, emancipated from its hibernation by the challenging questions, guides my hand as it makes swift calculations. I finish my test with time to spare, and I turn it in, confident of my answers. When I get my exam back the next week, there is an A written on the top of it. I have used my anxiety as a momentum to succeed.

I believe that fear of failure breeds the anxiety that propels me toward the first step in success. Many people think that confidence is the key to success, but how can one succeed if they are not motivated to do so? Anxiety is the momentum that forces me to approach challenges. My brain thrives off of apprehension. I view anxiety the same way a parent bribes his/ her child with candy. The sugar-coated lollipop acts as an impetus for the child to clean his/her room. For me, anxiety is the impetus that drives me towards success. This anxiety forces me to prepare and work hard, so I can overcome my fear of failure. However, I haven’t always been adroit when it comes to using my anxiety to secure success.

I was six years old, and it was my first swim meet at Oakmont Country Club. As I waited for my race to start, I was filled with apprehension. My dad stood by my side as I watched the races before mine start and end. The swimmers raced down their lines, water splashing everywhere. The crowd roared as the competitors raced to the opposite side of the pool. However, my anxiety muffled the crowds’ loud applause, and it only increased as the inception of the race drew closer. Then, the referee called my name, and I stepped hesitantly onto the diving block. Looking around at my competition, I saw tall, strong girls with fancy goggles and determined grimaces. Then, there was me: small, frail, and sporting bright, pink goggles. My dad was still at my side bestowing me with words of encouragement. Next, the referee said the three words of doom: “Ready, Set, Go.” The last word was obviously not clear to me. I saw the other girls dive into the water, barely making a splash, but I stood on the diving block frozen with fear. My dad, determined to see me complete the race, picked me up and tossed me into the pool. As I was submerged by the water, I could feel the water wash away my anxiety. When I came to the surface, I pulled at the water as hard as possible. My legs kicked until they felt numb. Finally, I saw the blue-tiled wall on the other side of the pool. I continued to swim as fast as my body would go, and hearing the crowds’ cheers only made me go faster. After what seemed like an eternity, I felt my hand touch the wall. I had finished my first race.

Before my race started, I was lost in utter apprehension. Would I be able to complete the race, or would the lifeguard have to jump into the water and pull me off the bottom of the pool? My anxiety ultimately acted as a momentum, helping me overcome my challenge and forcing me towards success. My brain thrives off of this anxiety, and without this apprehension that was created from fear of failure, I would not be able to succeed or even finish the race. Whether it is before an important test or athletic competition, my anxiety always finds a way to get the best out of me, and it’s the catalyst for my success.

Fear of failure is a universal fear that occupies the minds of many people especially students and athletes. Anxiety, which is caused by fear of failure, is traumatic for some students and athletes. This apprehension affects the student’s grades and the athlete’s performance. However, using this anxiety as a motivator for success will make the fear of failure wane, creating a more confident student or athlete. This anxiety will act as a propeller for the student, driving him/her to work hard and prepare efficiently for the upcoming test or event. If you learn to use fear correctly, it can turn the scaredy-cat into a tiger.