Friday, 23 October 2015

Failure, Social Anxiety and First Generation Migrants

Over the past two weeks I've gone from completely uninspired to bursting at the rim with trains of thought.  Every day I would have a new topic to ramble on and on about, but I never had time to sit and write.  My diary entries have become mere paragraphs every few days, and my stress over every little thing has soared through the roof.  I just want to relax.

The social anxiety began as soon as school opened up again - specifically when I realised that I would have to return to band rehearsals.  It's not that the people make me nervous, but it's that they always used to.  Band was the dreaded hour of every week for two years, and I can't seem to shake that perception.  Now I spend the night before worrying about it, so much so that sometimes band even sneaks into my dreams - and they say what you dream of is a sign of what you're dwelling on.

I got moved into the highest band this term, and I feel like such a failure because I feel like I don't deserve to be there.  I hate being bad at something, even though I haven't really practiced.  I hate being humiliated when I can't follow the rhythm or I get all the notes wrong.

In the same way, I hate that my grades are slipping, and I hate that I may not win one of those end of year awards.  They say that it always comes down to how hard you work, so I should just work harder, right?  That's what I've always done, what I've always been taught to do - so why have I stopped caring as much when it comes to putting in the effort?  Suddenly my grades are sub par and I've been denying it.  I can't accept being somewhat mediocre.  I want to be successful again.

My mum has been extremely difficult lately.  I pity my sister.  As the younger, supposedly lazier one, she's been forced to study science for weeks by a dictator who doesn't understand how the curriculum works, who doesn't acknowledge that other assessments may be more of a priority at this point in time.  I say I want to relax, but my sister hasn't been able to relax for two years now.  I took a two week holiday of doing nothing, and she's been forced to do worksheets every single day.

My mum is a tiger mum.  She's an unpersuadable, unreasonable tiger mum who doesn't understand that being a student isn't a full-time job.  This may have been how she grew up, and she may have studied ahead of her class in a corrupted country, but it's completely different here.  We're not cramming to pass exams four years ahead of us in order to leave the country.  She already did that for us, so that we could have the life we have now.  She needs to let us live it.  Yes, we've inherited the knowledge of the importance of school, but similarly we've also been exposed to the knowledge of a work-life balance.

My dad can't comprehend our school lifestyle either, because while he may understand how our final percentages are calculated, he has no idea what learning these subjects is like, what our teachers are like, what our friends are like.  My dad is a competitor.  He looks at the girls in my year as competition, identified by where they stand in terms of grades.  He looks through my school photos and identifies all the Asians, and remembers them, and asks about them - and sometimes I don't know whether it's curiosity or if he's just putting faces to names on the ranking inside his head.

They live in a purely school-oriented lifestyle, where we're simply reenacting their childhoods in a different country.  Maybe that's why my dad is also so enthusiastic about whatever sport we play - because he used to play sport with his friends every afternoon, just a different kind of sport.  Their parents were controlling, they had limited freedoms, and that's how my mum thinks of us.  Earlier today she told me she has complete control over everything I do until I'm 18.

They don't understand how I can have a job and study at the same time.  They don't understand every time I try to explain my relationship with my friends.  They don't understand why we wear makeup at this age.  They don't understand school dances and carnivals and houses.  They don't understand a lot of things, but at the same time I admit they're getting better.

As a second generation migrant I have it easier, but even then I'm still different.  I'm separated from their culture, as well as somewhat separated from my own, in terms of appearance at the very least.

It's like I'm always stressing about something, and it's never the thing I should be stressing over.  I have conversations with myself every day, and they become so real that I begin to mouth the words as I walk through the house or stare out of the window in the car.  I imagine what I might say to someone at work, or what I might say to someone unexpected in class, or even what I'm going to say to a friend I'm about to see.

I'm always socially anxious about the next event.  Time has flown and the boys' formal is in exactly a week.  The closeness of the event has finally hit me, and as the week goes by I will get more and more anxious until finally the three hours of formal will be over, and I'll be wondering what all that worrying was for.  In preparation I'll be having more imaginary conversations, and I'll be trying to mentally calm myself down, telling myself that if all those other girls aren't worrying, I shouldn't be either.

I've begun to care less about who I'm seen with, and more about the quality of our encounter.  I'm learning that there's no point trying to make other people think your life is great when you don't believe it yourself.  I think this has been a big step in my self improvement, but I still have a long way to go.

There's this graffiti tag you can find all over our city if you look hard enough, saying "IRUN".  They're usually found on the side of tunnels, or roads, or fences, but the other day my sister and I spotted one on the brick wall of a house and for some reason we thought it was the funniest thing.  Are they allowed to do that?

Everyone seems to think that they're so deep, and I'm sure they are, but what we all need to realise is that we're just as deep as each other.  We all have complicated thoughts because we're complicated beings.



  1. Social anxiety is a real thing but it's not often treated as such. People ask why those with social anxiety can't just chill. If only it was that easy. Don't let anyone invalidate how you're feeling! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

    1. I don't think my social anxiety could ever be clinically confirmed, because I have the feeling a lot of people worry about other people too - so I'm not different, just overwhelmed like everyone else. Who knows though? But either way, any form of anxiety is something to work away from, and not letting other people determine how I feel is the most important step.

  2. If you have been shifted to the highest band then that means they did see something in you to put you there. Give your best effort and if you don't think you deserve it then work harder and show everyone and yourself why you do ♥
    I used to stress about events even before they happened too but I guess with the passage of time it starts to go away. At least for me it did and I don't worry about stuff like that anymore. I hope you get through it.

    -Kathie K
    A Sea Change

    1. I really do think the secret to being good at something is to simply believe you are, no matter how cliche that sounds. Because, I mean, if they can play accurately why can't I? All it takes is a little practice, so that's why I'm working harder than usual.
      Hopefully the stress will go away for me too. I mean, they're just events. It's not like they're the make it or break it of anything. And if I just relax maybe I'll have some fun.

  3. I'm not sure if I can relate to you or not, the whole band situation confuses me. Are the people in it making you feel uncomfortable? If yes then I know what you mean. Well I WAS in a steelpan band, and some people just didn't treat me the right way...So I've decided to quit. I recently published a post about grades and how EVERYBODY IS SO OBSESSED with them in England! Please don't worry about grades, you can improve them...It just takes a bit of work :)

    Rukiya XX

    1. If I believe the people in my band make me nervous then they will, so it's better to believe they don't. That was the state of mind I took just a while ago and it got so much better. I don't want to quit because I know that sometimes I really do enjoy playing my instrument and making music, but before I can enjoy it I have to actually get it right.
      As for grades, they really are pretty simple in the sense that it is all just dependent on how hard you work. My issue is that I don't want to work hard anymore. I don't understand where my lack of motivation is coming from but I need to pick myself back up. I really want to read your post so I'm gonna go look for it now.

  4. 'It's like I'm always stressing about something, and it's never the thing I should be stressing over.' so you just summarized my life in a sentence.Believe me though, it's just never that serious.Everytime i feel myself getting overwhelmed i just force myself to believe that its just never that serious.Hope you feel better.And your blog is so on point!I love how honest and well written it is.

    1. Thank you Maryam. That means a lot. And it's always so true that you may stress before, but as soon as the event begins you're completely utterly calm and wondering what all that angst was for. I guess being carefree is the way to go, but then what else is there to think about?

  5. "I'm separated from their culture, as well as somewhat separated from my own, in terms of appearance at the very least."

    Being the ridiculous person I am, I teared up when reading this sentence... I relate to this so so much. Thank you for sharing this post- I am officially in love with your blog and expect a new follower on Bloglovin' ! <3 xx

    1. Apparently having two cultures under your belt rather than one is actually something people wish they had though, so I guess maybe we're the lucky ones. Thank you so much Lena.