Over the last few months, it is safe to say that my anxiety has been getting better. Don’t get me wrong: I still have anxiety, but my overall level of anxiety is lower than it was a few months ago.
However, there is one big thing that sets off my anxiety every now and then, and while I do my best to ignore it (not the best coping technique, I know) I still sometimes start freaking out about it.
The anxiety all starts with my goals for the future. I am rather ambitious, and I hope to get a good job in an interesting field (for me, that would be pretty much anything that has a heavy focus on math). These ambitions in and of themselves aren’t the direct cause of my anxiety, however. No, my anxiety arises when I start thinking about what I need to do to achieve my goals. It’s the thought of finding an internship or job that I qualify for despite my total lack of experience. My anxiety comes from looking through internship listings and not seeing a single one that I have the necessary skills for. It comes from realizing that here at school, I am really only good at math and not really anything else.
And it’s not even that I’m bad at other things. Besides my math classes, I’m also taking physics and computer science this semester, and I am doing well enough in both of those classes. But everyone else in those classes seems to understand the concepts in those classes so easily, whereas I struggle to get through assignments and problem sets. Or I spend hours and hours studying for tests while others go out and party, only to come out with a lower grade than them.
And then there are the expectations: as soon as I tell anyone here that I’m a math major, they immediately assume that I’m some kind of genius who understands everything easily. But I’m not – I am a person who failed her first Physics midterm (and when I say fail, I mean fail: I got a 48% on that test). The pressure that I feel trying to live up to everyone’s expectations as a math major is unbelievable – and I’m scared that it’s not something that I’ll ever be able to escape, even when I get a job.
So now we get to the jobs: I mentioned that I’m not really great at anything besides math, but here’s the thing: you can’t really make a career out of math. And so I’m stuck trying to find a job as a physicist or something like that even though I’m not really great at any of that. Or even if I do find a job as a mathematician (which is rare) I still need to know how to code, which for me is a problem because every time I code I get an irresistible urge to punch my computer, so much so that I had to start writing my codes down to avoid causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage.
But that’s all in the future (which is exactly why I’m feeling so anxious). For now, I guess I’m just going to spend my time trying to convince the people around me that I am nowhere near as smart as they make me out to be.