Worried

"Emma, what do you worry about?" This is what my 11th grade english teacher asked me in class one day. We were writing in our journals and she wrote this sentence on the board to start our discussion. I never really thought about what I worried about on a daily basis. I began to write my biggest worries and fears on paper (never answering her question) and realized I couldn't stop.


30 minutes later, I sat at my small little desk. My english teacher had just called on Danielle to read what she worried about. And as my teacher surveyed the room to see who would be her next victim on the chopping block of doom, my pencil rolled and fell on the floor. "Emma, why don't you go next?" she said with a smile, hoping I didn't see her remorse of choosing me to read next. She always hated me, I just never knew why. "It's personal," I reply, but she points to the front of the class to go ahead.


My mind is spinning at this point and I feel like I can't breathe. My legs are shaking as I walk to the front of the class. I have 20 or so classmates peering at me to start. With a deep breath, I begin.


"Hi everyone," I start. I cough, and try to continue the already horrible beginning. "We've all been asked to write about what worries us. And as much as I thought about it, I couldn't tell you what worries me without telling you what fears me or challenges me either." I looked around to see some of my peers listening intently, while other peers looked bored. "Most kids worry about grades or school or sports. But I have so much more than that to worry about."


Now I had most peoples' attention. My teacher was as curious as the next guy, but I avoided all eye contact and continued. "I'm not trying to gain any sympathy or make you think I have self pity, but I have been through some stuff. Most of you know I am a recovery anorexic, but it is alot tougher than you think. I constantly watch what I eat. I have to be told to eat and I also have to be told when to eat or how much. I see a counselor 3 times a week and she is seriously going to kill me by getting into my head about being anorexic and all my other problems."



Everyone was listening now and all their eyes were burning into my skin, waiting for more of what I had to say. So I went on. "My parents are getting divorced and I don't know how to handle it. My grandma is in the hospital with cancer and the doctors don't think she will survive. School and sports are troubling as well. My perfect average has seriously dropped with all this stress and it's really hard to pass my easiest classes anymore. My best friend has ditched me for the so called popular clique at our school. I don't want to grow up and be on my own because it scares me half to death thinking that I only have two more years left of high school and then college. From all the stress and drama I am getting panic attacks so I take medication but then I feel pshycotic for having to take them."


I had to take a breath. I was reading really fast and I am jumbling my words. I hope people understand me. I kind of want that approval. Approval, I repeat to myself. And then all my emotion really came out. "But do you want to know what I really worry about every single day of my life? I always feel like I never have my dad's approval whether its sports or school or anything I do in life. I can be making dinner and he will have to comment on the littlest thing I might have done wrong. And you know what feels worse? Having him make you think he loves your little brother and favors him more than you. Always helping him or giving him what he wants. Always playing with him and giving him advice that you could really use but you don't get it. But sometimes it just isn't good enough."


People looked surpised. Girls were crying in my class and the guys had blank expressions because they didn't know what to say. My teacher was the most shocked as I could tell on her face. The look on her face made me think she felt sorry for me, but I didn't want sympathy.


"So what do I worry about you may ask?" I say. "I really only worry about going back to that dark place I was in before. Being anorexic. Being betrayed. Worrying about school and grades and growing up. But seriously worrying about the fact that the only person's approval in life I never have. I try to take it one day at a time, so I look at the positive. I'm not gonna worry about not being asked to prom, or worry about failing one trig test. I got to look at the whole picture. I'm still worried about these things, but I can't change them either so why worry about things that won't change? I am worried, but not enough to stop living."


I got a standing ovation from my class. Cheers from everyone filled my ears and some people ran up to hug me and tell me that I just inspired them. I felt pretty great actually. I was shaking as I walked back to my desk and realized I didn't even have to use the paper I wrote this all down on. I accomplished that. Should I have that to worry about? I really don't think so.





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