Second Commandment: Deal With Anxiety
Sitting down in a chair to take the SAT or ACT or any standardized test is like stepping onto a stage under the white hot lights. There is no audience watching you, but oh, there is a whole lot of pressure. You can’t see it but you know it’s there because you feel it.
Anxiety has the power to wipe us out if we can’t get a handle on it. We care so much and we want to do well, but we have to Deal With Anxiety.
Let me tell you a story and then tell you a very important secret about Anxiety.
When I was a young actor, anxiety was Enemy Number One. Before performing on stage in a play or even doing a scene in acting class, I’d feel that familiar heat rising to my head, my heart beating like crazy in my chest. I would panic that something was going to go wrong, awfully wrong. And sometimes it did.
Let me give you a vivid example.
A bunch of years ago, I had a total freak out doing a play, an episode in which I went totally blank on stage. It was a play called “Let’s Play Two” about a road trip. There was a guy and a girl and a car. We sat in this silly red wooden stage car and somehow in the middle of the play, I lost my line.
“Oh my god, what’s my line?”
I looked at Bridget, the actress sitting in that car right next to me, and her eyes were so wide open it was like they would pop out and roll on the floor.
The disorientation built like wildfire. First there was a missing a word, then a line, then I didn’t know where we were in the play! There was nothing left; only the stage lights which seemed hotter and closer than they were supposed to be, Bridget’s eyeballs wide open and desperate, and a bright white silence in the room.
A white out.
A wipe out.
If this was a story about an ocean cliff and there were rocks beneath, I was the guy on the rocks.
So what’s the takeaway?
You have to befriend your anxiety. Yeah. It’s true. You have to make friends with it.
If you find that your Anxiety is really getting in the way of your performance on a test, then it might mean that you are trying push it away. That you are not Dealing with It. And how do you do this? How do you Deal with your Anxiety?
You have to FEEL it. You have to breathe it in and FEEL it and stay present in your seat.
If you have the courage to just sit there and FEEL it, I guarantee, your anxiety will release it’s grip on you. And it takes practice.
Because here’s the secret.
The real anxiety, the toxic stuff that is really causing trouble and disturbing the peace, wrecking your focus, and taking you out of your game is NOT what you think. It’s NOT the anxiety you feel about doing well on the test. We all feel nerves about doing well on the test.
What’s messing you up is your FEAR of the FEAR. It’s the ANXIETY of having ANXIETY.
Do you get what I am saying?
That’s why we try to deny it, to push it away. We don’t want to accept it. We are terrified of the feeling of Anxiety and so we are scared of Anxiety. And it’s that FEAR of having FEAR that’s the true ENEMY.
The next time you sit down in the chair, take deep breath and Feel your Nerves.
More on this in next week’s blog: “BREATHE!”
To get your full pdf copy of Satellite’s Ten Commandments of Standardized Test Taking, click here.
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