Taking a test

The Fears That Make Us (Unnecessarily) Quake

It was my second week of middle school, and I was terrified about my first science test. I’d spent the last six years in a sheltered, easygoing primary school, and it was frightening to walk the noisy corridor of unfamiliar kids, the science lab looming at the end of the hallway.

To cope, I told myself that I wouldn’t remember this day, this trial, this test, by the time I was thirty—an age that seemed impossibly far off—so why worry about it now?

That mental trick relaxed me enough that I ended up doing fine on the test. Soon test-taking became not such a big deal. But the funny thing is, I’m forty-seven now, and I do remember that day, that trial, that test.

So my seventh-grade self was wrong. But also right. What I had really been telling myself was that by the time I turned thirty, the test wouldn’t matter anymore, that I’d be able to look back at my formerly quaking self with compassion and perspective, and that everything passes—even fear. Especially fear.

What fears make you quake today?

*The above post previously appeared on Susan Cain’s former blog, The Power of Introverts.

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