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Coping with Anxiety - Canie 20

"I had this pressure from everyone."
I've always been ready to conquer anything, or so I thought. I've always told myself I can handle anything that comes my way until it comes time to do my Form Four exams. I am a bright girl, so everyone expected so much from me. I had this pressure from everyone that expected me to pass. From parents to teachers and even fellow students.

I slept to cope.
I was so anxious during this season that I couldn't even study. It is not that I didn't want to learn but because I couldn't concentrate on one thing because I was constantly obsessing over the unknown. Because of this anxiety, sleep became my best friend. I would sleep while others were studying. I would even oversleep in the morning instead of going to read.

It affected me
It reached a point where I had trouble eating. I would give out all my food or even pour... I became so clumsy and fidgety that "Ningekua nikishika kitu inajitoa kwa mkono inaanguka."… I was too stressed to even care about anything, including my hygiene. Everybody thought that I was just a "don't care". Others say, "Wachana na huyu alishasoma". I tried several things to stop being stressed, but none worked. A friend had also advised me to try drugs and that if I did, I would study without thinking about anything else, but I didn't.

I was so hard on myself.
I used to cry so much. I felt like a failure even before the time to sit for my exams had come. The thought of failing and disappointing everybody made me so angry at myself. I could call myself stupid so many times. I was afraid of failing but was not doing anything for it. Anytime ningetaka kusoma, I'd drift to my world. I always kept to myself, making people think I was proud of something... It's like I have become a new person.

I can run my life.
On a particular Sunday, a preacher was brought to school and talked about appreciating ourselves. I remember him telling us to repeat after him that we were made for greatness. He said this life is ours and we should confidently run it. This made me think that my stress was caused by what others expected of me and not by myself. That day, I stayed for the evening devotion, and I cried... I cried... I was not even praying like the rest; I was crying.

I became my biggest cheerleader.
I cried, knowing I had wasted so much time on self-inflicted stress. I cried, telling myself, "Canie, you can do it. Canie, you're the best, and Canie, you're great." I assured myself so much that night, and by the time I got up from that place, I was so relieved. Kumbe, the thing that I was missing was self-assurance. From then until I did my exam, I'd reassure myself every time I felt down. Whenever I lost my concentration, I'd tell myself, "Canie, you can do it," and I did it! A little assurance can take someone so far.

The strength within
This experience taught me that there are times when the most significant obstacle we face is not the external challenges but the self-doubts we carry inside us. With self-assurance and a belief in what we can do, we can rise above the expectations of others and achieve greatness.

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