Anxiety and success go together

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"I can't wait to attend my new high school," said Merissa, a 14-year-old. She had been eagerly anticipating the special school. Now that school was beginning tomorrow, the girl thought of all the things she could do to make the transition easier. The day before, she washed her hair, purchased new clothes and tried to correspond with her friends by texting them or chatting on the phone.

"Everybody says it's really going to be difficult," they all said. Everyone was apprehensive about the beginning. Merissa wondered if she would fit in, meet the high standards of the school and keep up the fast pace of lessons, interests and activities. But she dared not tell anyone about her insecurities.

"How could this be," Merissa thought. She and her friends had long awaited the new venture, so why were they so afraid that first day?

Norman Vincent Peale, a minister and author, said that every time he gave a talk or preached a sermon he was anxious. The adrenaline would begin to flow and he could feel his nerves tighten. But Peale knew that those feelings and states of being were necessary to his ability to deliver and perform well. "If I had felt calm and too much at ease I would done a lessor job," he said in his book "The Power of Positive Thinking."

Fear and anxiety are often steppingstones to getting to where you want to go. When children first learn to walk, they too are fearful they'll fall, and they do, many times. But they still never give up. Why? Because to walk is a feat that is most important to toddlers. So if it hurts, they still pursue their goal.

When people are motivated to accomplish an aspiration, attend an outing, college or even a new high school, the fear they experience is an asset to their arrival. Without experiencing some discomfort and going that extra mile to prepare for a pursuit you would be haphazard in your approach. As Norman Vincent said, you too would "fail to do as good of a job."

Colossians 3:23 realizes that it takes work and application to realize your dreams and desires. "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men," Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells people that "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

The college professor, Mrs. Rose had so looked forward to teaching during the fall. She made all the necessary preparations such as being sure she was correctly connected to the university Internet system.

Professor Rose checked her lectures from past years and wrote some new ones. She even purchased a new computer this year.

The instructor was so excited, yet she was also a bit fearful. She had been extremely occupied with home duties and felt somewhat pressured to begin the semester. She thought of the numerous new faces that would be examining her demeanor and wondering what she was like. Was she a difficult teacher, a proficient one? She scarcely slept the night before even though she had taught the class many times.

"Why am I restless when I am eagerly looking forward to a new semester and fresh students?" she asked herself. Nevertheless, when the beginning day of school appeared she was one of the first ones to arrive to class. Meeting the new students was much less traumatic than she had imagined.

The professor had prepared to meet the challenge. Had she refrained from planning for school she would have continued to be anxious and felt like a failure. However since she had gotten ready to teach by doing everything possible to ensure a successful class; her resolve paid off. So never lose your courage because you're anxious but instead realize, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4-13), and do it.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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