My Fear of Failure Created my Successes, and Fueled my Anxiety.

No one tells you the pressure that comes with being successful.

No one tells you how pressure can cause you to resent your successes.

No one tells you the downside to being a student athlete on any type of scholarship.

My anxiety resulted in my successes, but it wasn’t until within the past year that I really came to terms with the fact that my fear of not being successful fueled my anxiety.

In previous posts I have mentioned I am on the track team.

I also am super involved with different organizations, jobs, etc. I would go more into it, but I’m just going to post a photo of my resume because I don’t really like talking about myself in that sense.

One of the reasons I’ve done so much stuff before the age of 21 is because growing up my parents did a great job instilling in a great work ethic. My father would tell me, “Work hard, play later,” or the one phrase that has stuck with me to this day is, “As a POC you’ll have to work twice as hard to get anywhere, but as a woman, you’ll have to work three times as hard.”

And I took those thoughts and ran with them.

I always had good grades and did extra-curricular activities, but it wasn’t until I started getting good at throwing that I saw the dark side to success.

After I won my first state championship it all changed.

I wasn’t Alexis Dickerson anymore. I was Alexis Dickerson NCHSAA 3A State Champion.

My family was so proud. I was the first person on my mother’s side to win a state championship. There were talks of scholarships. My future looked good.

I was used to the pressure. I had always felt like the “Totem” cousin, niece, nephew on both sides. Not in a “I’m better” mindset just my parents instilled such a good work ethic (and the fear of god of doing something wrong) that I became an overachiever.

Then after I won my second state championship all hell broke loose.

I was the first person on both sides to have won back to back state championships. I was the first person to receive an athletic scholarship. I was the first person to go to school for film.

I was told by family members that they hope their kids follow in my footsteps of success. I had family members tell me they’re so proud of me. They’d tell me of the downfalls of my older cousins and that “I was special,” “I’m going to do something,” “I’m going to carry on the family name with success.”

I was everything they’d dreamed me to be.

And then I went to college and I was a small fish in the ocean.

So I decided to join clubs, work, practice, take 18 hour semesters, and volunteer at any chance.

I put my heart and soul into doing what people told me I needed to do to be successful.

And at every family gathering my college life would pop up, and everyone was so happy to hear I was a student athlete. They were so proud, especially when they found out I had made the Dean’s List as well.

I was this mystical unicorn to my family.

And I hated talking about it every fucking moment.

That pressure gets to you.

Especially as a student athlete.

I constantly make the joke that UNCW owns my body for four years, until I graduate. What I didn’t realize that by using my Freshman year to get involved with the on and off campus community the school now owned my image as well.

Even to this day I sometimes get tired, but I have a job to be a role model, especially since I’m a student athlete.

I have worked so hard to be known on campus, that I have an image to uptake. I can’t fuck up. I would disappoint so many people.

But the pressure gets real.

I’ve been told that people wish I was the standard.

But I can barely handle my own standard.

And that fear gets to you.

That fear of failure that caused you to overachieve in high school now reduces you to tears because you feel like you’re letting people down if you don’t succeed.

I would have days that I wouldn’t want to get out of bed, but I would get out of bed and go to practice and class.

I didn’t have the right to not go to a meeting because that wouldn’t look good.

I couldn’t show how low I felt because that would hurt my image.

So I’d keep pushing myself to work harder and do better.

Until I’d break down into tears at night, when I knew I was by myself.

And after years I’m finally getting myself together mentally.

I’m finally figuring out who I am without my awards.

I’m finally learning to let go of my fear of failure.

I’m finally learning to live my life how my father tells me, “Everything that happens, helps build character.”

I’m finally learning to live my life how my mother tells me, “When one door closes, another window opens.” (I originally thought this was a English-is-not-her first language mistake, but she explained she definitively meant that I would have to climb through a window because life is still hard.)

I still stumble and fall on my face and let my anxiety take over, but I’m trying really hard to be myself and not what everyone wants me to be.

P.S. – To Guy (from the last post). I’m sorry. I wasn’t tactful and I apologize. I was frustrated and decided to be me and be upfront, and forget that that doesn’t work well with other people.


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