Math, School Anxiety, and American Idol

I’m a sensitive soul. Always have been. The youngest of 3 kids, I can remember yelling at my siblings to stop fighting when they were in the midst of a brawl. This sensitivity extended to other areas of my life. School was an anxiety producer for several reasons. The earliest example of school anxiety came every year in the first week of October. Fire Prevention Week.

One day in 1st grade, our class was having circle time. During this time our teacher would make announcements, we’d recite the day of the week, month and year, and read a book. On this particular day, our teacher mentioned that we’d have a fire drill sometime in the coming week. I had never heard that term before, but I remember feeling a sense of dread. Perhaps it was the word ‘fire’ that made me afraid. For those of you outside the US, Fire Prevention Week is celebrated in schools across the country as a way to educate children on fire safety. The week includes a fire drill so the kids are able to practice what to do in case of a fire.  FPW filled me with such dread that I tried to gauge when the drill would be, then feign sickness that day so I could stay home from school. Yes, it seems silly and extreme to stay home from an entire day of school for an anxiety inducing activity that only took up 5 minutes of time, but I was desperate.

I also had anxiety in another area of school. Yelling teachers. Even if the teacher wasn’t yelling at me, I’d still be on edge when they’d yell at a classmate. Fast forward to 8th grade. There was one specific teacher that gave me anxiety; Mr. C. He was known for being short-tempered, and there was even a story about how he threw a chair during class one day. Needless to say, I was a jumble of nerves in his class. Unfortunately, he was also my math teacher, and I’m about as good at math as William Hung is a singer, without the awkward movements.  As the year wore on, I was spending more and more time in the nurses office on a rubbery cot covered in thin paper, and less and less time in math class. Of course my grade in math suffered greatly. Then my teacher had an idea midway through the year. Every other day going forward, I’d leave class early to be privately tutored in a calm environment by an equally calm tempered tutor. GENIUS! This fix helped my grade just a bit and I ended the year with a passing grade. Phew!

In life you are gonna come up against people different from yourself. They may give you anxiety. The key to coping is to make sure you have others around you that can act as a support system. This can make the difference between a failing or a passing grade.

Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you tomorrow

Cheers!

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