Why I Don't Answer in English Class

After every English literature test, there’s only one person the entire class expects to emerge at the top: me. Well, the entire class except me, that is.

The truth is, I have been consistently getting the highest grades in my class, and every time people ask me for any explanation or help in English, they always leave awestruck. “How do you think of all this stuff?” they ask me. But in my mind, it’s always a fluke. Every test I write, every essay I submit, they’re all just extremely lucky flukes. Because in reality, I don’t see myself as this genius everyone sees me as. I’m not good at the subject, I just get extremely lucky. Which is why, my most important rule is to never answer in class.

I see answering in class as a risk of exposing myself – what if I say something and people realize I’ve just been faking it and I’m not really that great at English? The anxiety of unravelling that shiny image and disclosing my “average” reality stops me from expressing my opinion in class. Because I always think my opinion is wrong, and I’m scared of people judging me for having the wrong opinion.

That’s what anxiety is to me – not even being able to accept my strengths and appreciate myself. In fact, I’m only looking at English literature as something I’m good at because of what my peers and my teachers have told me: personally, I hate every single thing I write. Anxiety is wanting everything to be perfect and then when nothing matches up to your standards, being anxious because well, nothing is good enough! Anxiety is being afraid to help other people when they ask you because you’re afraid if you help them, they might realize you’re not all that good after all. Anxiety is putting the pressure of living up to everyone’s expectations of you on yourself so people don’t see who you really are because you think you’re not good enough.

I want to answer in class; I want to be able to express my opinions and take part in debates, but I can’t, simply because I don’t believe in myself enough. But eventually, I will. And when I do believe in myself and my abilities enough, nobody will be able to stop me from answering in English class.

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