How do I deal with Performance anxiety

The first time I went on a diet (December 2015), my relationship just ended. I was the one who ended it, partly because I felt like there had to be more to life. Not just passive sitting around but actually enjoying things. At that moment I already had contact with my current boyfriend, purely on a friendship base. He was the one inspiring me to start living more healthy. I lost about 20 kg. in that period. Then at the end of July I left to live in Denmark for 3 months. Roadtrips, spoiling ourselves a bit, and I was alone for most of the days. Excellent time to try all the unhealthy things Denmark had to offer. So I started gaining weight again. I didn’t really want to see that for quite some time. I didn’t want to admit that I was failing again. But after a few talks with my amazing supportive bf I realized that I had to do something.

Performance anxiety, fear of failure… I want to be perfect, I don’t like criticism and I don’t like getting feedback. Because it makes me feel like I failed and like people don’t like me. Ofcourse, everyone has failing experiences in their life. Some people are amazing. They manage to turn it around, see it as a learning process, hold their head up high and continue. I’m not like that, whenever I do something wrong I’d like the earth to open up underneath me so I can just be swallowed by it. However, there are a few things I learned that I’d like to share with you:

– Humor makes everything more easy. Trying to laugh about yourself instead of always wanting to be perfect is actually a pretty good feeling. I’m still having a lot of trouble with this but bf is pretty good at it. So sometimes I send him a funny picture of me doing something stupid on purpose, or I tell him about the stupid thing I did or said that day. It makes me realize that it actually wasn’t so bad.

– Be nice to yourself. It’s so easy to be tough on yourself, to tell yourself you are worth nothing. But you’re not achieving anything by that. Like me, you might tell yourself that it’s for the better. You don’t deserve anything anyway, you can’t achieve anything, you can’t do anything. You might tell yourself that you’re actually doing the world a favor by not participating. Well, guess what, you’re not! The more you start to like yourself, the more you try and build your self-confidence, the more you’ll notice that the world actually likes you when you are like that.

– Babysteps. Sometimes I have days where it’s actually an achievement to just get out of bed. You can spend that day feeling guilty and looking at others and how much more they can do. But are you achieving anything useful by that? Is there anything small you can do on a day like this? Maybe you can clean something up, maybe you can do 15 mins. of exercising, maybe you can talk to a friend on Whatsapp. Maybe you can do some grocery shopping, get yourself a nice breakfast or do laundry. Even the small things you do on a day like that will make you feel better.

– Music is an awesome thing. I love singing, I even love dancing sometimes although I guess for every outsider I must look ridiculous when doing that. When I feel bad I like listening to calming music or music that actually makes me feel like going on. “A great big world” has some awesome songs that help me through sometimes.

– If I failed once I am tempted to just give up altogether. It’s like a confirmation. See, I indeed can’t do anything, so I won’t even try. But secretly deep inside I know very well where I went wrong and that I could change it, if I wasn’t so afraid to fail again. It usually helps me to sit down and think about things. Maybe talk it through with someone that’s willing to listen en is supportive. I think about what I am actually afraid of, what is the underlying problem. Yes, I am afraid to fail, but what happens if I fail. Why shouldn’t I try this again, am I going to let fear stop me?

– “You’re allowed to make mistakes”. This sentence still sounds stupid to me. Because the very word already says it, mistakes, that means that you shouldn’t make them, right? That means if you don’t make them you’re successful, right? Wrong. You are successful if you make mistakes but aren’t afraid to get up again. And if it takes you a day to get up, that’s fine. As long as you bounce back.

– Family and friends. I know that not everyone has a great family or supporting friends. And meeting people and making friends is so very hard when your self-confidence is about -10. I have to admit, I have been blessed with a great family. It’s not a big one, and ofcourse we have problems and issues, every family has. However, I have learned (especially now that I’m actually working towards a goal of losing weight and now that I’m in Denmark sometimes) that I can really count on them. I would recommend to be honest with them about things. I know this is hard, if you don’t tell people, then they won’t know if you failed either. But It’s so much easier to NOT fail of there’s people supporting you. They won’t offer you that slice of cake if you tell them you’re working hard on being on a diet and would appreciate if they could help you. That what family and friends are for, you deserve this.

– Coping. A few years ago I did a coping course of 2 hours every week for 4 weeks. Roughly speaking this meant to not look at all the issues you have, but to look at that 1 conviction that makes all the other problems be there. In my case this was that I didn’t believe I had the right to actually be here. Then you turn this around: Judith, you have the right to be here. That sounded strange to me, but by writing it down on notes around my house and telling it myself in front of the mirror over and over again, it started to sound less strange.

These are all the things I have learned so far about myself. I’d like you to remember that not everything has to work for you. Also babysteps are really important, you don’t have to accept yourself and all of your problems in just 1 day. It would actually be bad if you did that, it would mean that you probably just pushed the problem down and ignore it. Set 1 foot in front of the other and try to be honest to yourself. I’d love to hear some of your strategies to cope with performance anxiety. Comment below or send me a private message if you want it to be anonymous.


Note: The pictures and the video on this page are not mine. They do help me when I feel down though, so I chose to share them.

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