Little feet stepping on the fine sands of a desert. Life was carefree and simple. But time began to speed up, and as the little feet grew, the load of responsibilities did, too, rendering the desert dry and cracked.
Life is like a desert. One minute it’s cool and glistening from the joyful moments, the next it’s cracked and scorched from the troubles that build on it. The cracks in my life are formed by fear and anxiety. As a 13-year-old girl, I’m in that strange period of life where everything is confusing and scary, and I feel like a piece of a puzzle, unable to find its place. I picture my life as a tunnel, because even though I have a vague idea of where it leads, it’s the journey through that’s unknown. It’s the journey that scares me.
I often find myself wondering why I’m scared of this journey. What is it about this tunnel that evokes a strange fear, a twisted, sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach? And the more I write this piece, the more I’m subjected to answer this question. In truth, I fear the journey through this tunnel because I fear disappointment. I fear that when I do get through this tunnel, I won’t end up where I want to be. That’s one reason I strive so hard to be perfect in my life. I fear the disappointment that comes with failure. Most people fear disappointment from their peers or family. I fear disappointment from myself. I know I’ll never be satisfied unless I’m always in first place. This fear is my darkness. It has driven me to a point where I can’t go forward unless I’ve left behind a success.
When I was younger, I got a B on my math exam. To others it was a good grade, but to me, it was equivalent to failure. This failure consumed me. From that point on, I stressed and studied so much for the next exam that I ended up harming my health. I wouldn’t eat properly, and my weight dropped so much to the point where I was borderline anorexic. My mind was constantly bombarded with the thought that I wasn’t good enough. It was like being in an endless spiral, with no way to escape. But I supported myself with the knowledge that I brought my grade up to an A. Of course this wasn’t good. It grew to become an addiction I couldn’t quit. The darkness, silence and loneliness of fear took control of the seams of my life.
The worst part about this is that I know I have this fear. But every day I see people in conditions worse than mine. I see people with depression, people who are physically in pain, and I think that my fears are minuscule compared to theirs. I feel anxious that maybe my problems aren’t worth discussion, and maybe if they aren’t on as large a scale as those of the people around me, then maybe they aren’t problems at all.
As a result, I think that fear and anxiety play a large part in the story of my life. But I’m growing and I’m learning. I’m learning to understand my fears and the things that give me anxiety. Most importantly, I’m learning how to cope with them, through music, writing and even just thinking. I don’t think there is one true way to not be scared or to not feel anxious. I believe that the solution to these problems varies with each individual, because we are all different. And that’s ok. In the desert of life, there will always be a new obstacle. And there will always be a new pair of feet to face these obstacles.
Iman Monnoo is 13 years old and in the eighth grade at Lahore Grammar School in Pakistan. If no one has seen her for the past half hour, sheʼs most likely in the alcove of her room, engrossed between the covers of an Agatha Christie novel!
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