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Performance Anxiety: product of the never-ending rat race

Writer Aarna takes her through her personal experience as well as tips and tricks on combatting the fearsome "performance anxiety".

As a year-one international student, it was nerve-wracking to come to a new country and live alone, but that did not come across as a challenge. The challenging part was seeing the people around me running in a rat race to achieve a common goal. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing everything for myself or if it is just to seek validation from others.

Performance Anxiety

Just two words but can change a topper into a trembling wreck. It means the fear of not meeting expectations or falling short in front of an audience. As university students, we often find ourselves striving for success in many aspects of our life. This constant need for academic validation and perfectionism pulls us and our confidence down.

Being an international student myself, I understand the added pressure that comes with excelling academically, socially and professionally. We leave our family, friends and country behind to grow. The desire to make them proud becomes our sole goal. Just to hear, “I am proud of you”.

Validation and Perfection

Ironically, our eagerness to seek academic validation from others is a self-imposed burden. All of us are so concerned about what others think of us that we have forgotten how to embrace our imperfections. Self-acceptance is important for our growth. The next time you think of listening to someone’s opinion about you, ask yourself- is it even worth it?

Another starter for performance anxiety is perfectionism. According to me, it is not the failure that should be eliminated but rather the fear of failing. Failure should not be perceived negatively. It is another chance for you to do better. Get up and try again whenever you fail in something, I bet you will do better.

This also leads to us focusing more on the outcomes rather than the process. Learn to enjoy the journey you are on rather than looking for the end. Thus, embracing failure as a part of learning helps us to take risks and makes us more resilient.

On top of everything, we get so much involved in this rat race that we often forget about our roots. It is important to realise that our family and friends are not here to stress us out but they are here to put us at ease. So, take out time for them. Sit down and watch a movie or play games. Just be with them.

Facing your Fears

So how can we overcome performance anxiety? Start by acknowledging your anxious feelings, and seeking support from friends, family or counselors. It is important to talk to get reassured and have perspective. Practice self-validation, wake up and tell yourself that you are proud of yourself!

Another important way is to change your mindset about failures and imperfections. They are just stepping stones that will transform you into a better human being. Remember that learning is more important than succeeding.

Also, always remember that everyone has a different way of learning, so stop comparing yourself with others. Focus on your learning journey and how you can grow more. Stop running in this endless rat- race, instead, find a balance between academics, personal growth and maintaining connections with loved ones.

So next time when you decide to take up a new hobby, do not give it up because you don’t have time or you are scared that you would fail or what others think. Close your eyes and remind yourself – I am in a learning process and do it!

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