Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

I'm having a lot of trouble with my english work, and it's making my life pretty damn miserable. I know it's really stupid to get so anxious and worked up over something as trivial as writing a couple of essays, but that just adds to the million and one voices that start screeching around my head as soon as I sit down with a pen and my notes. I just feel like I'm being sent up to a firing squad, and then I start thinking about why the heck I'd make that stupid comparison, and then another part of me starts mouthing off about how easily distracted by stupid things I am, then I start panicking because I'm not getting anything down on the page and then I get really hyperaware of every little sound in the room and it drives me crazy and then I get caught up in trying to calm myself down and then, before I know it, half an hour's gone past and I still haven't bloody well got more than some chicken scratchings down on my page, and then I have to fight off the bloomin' waterworks and to get my hand to grip the pen right. All of this over a stupid essay. And what's even stupider is that I know that it's my tendency to keep going over my work sentence by sentence to make sure that they're grammatically correct and not too cliche and concise enough and not too stupid and not too messy that usually kicks this cycle into an even higher gear, and what do I do? At the first sign of my momentum beginning to dwindle, I go panic and back to the start of my essay and do every single one of these things! For crying out loud!


I'm laughing now, but this whole mad little mental dance I go through every time a piece of paper is pushed at me seriously makes me feel like shit. I mean, I used to be so good at english. I was a straight A student, until a few years ago. Now my average is about a D to a C. I'm in year 12. I need at least a study score of 30 in english to get me to where I want to go. I just... I can't see myself achieving that. Considering my achievement in school is pretty much the only thing I  have going for me, it's suffice to say I'm feeling pretty hopeless.


I procrastinate. Horribly. I can't get my thoughts in any kind of order, I feel paranoid about letting people see my work because I'm convinced it's riddled with errors, faults, or I've managed to slip in an undertone in an argument that makes me sound like a disgusting human being, and I just can't communicate with anybody. I either stand back passively and let them talk over me until it's too late to speak up, or I blurt out a really ridiculously constructed sentence at the most innapripriate time and frustrate everyone around me. I get obsessive and repeat humiliating conversations or events or possible outcomes in my head until I feel like I'm reliving the moment and want to cry. I'm such a freakin' doormat, and it kills me. I can't direct anything, I just get swept up in the flow. I'm the one making myself miserable and half the time I feel like I'm just a self-absorbed sham out to extend her own personal little pity party, and I don't want to be that kind of person, but I just don't know where to go or what to do, if I can even do anything at all. 


Should I speak to my teacher about my problems with the essay writing? I really don't want to, because I can't think of a way of wording it without sounding pathetic and I really should be able to write a bloody essay by year 12, but on the other hand I kind of know something's gotta change, because the current situation really, really is not working. 


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

@Echo1 trying to get your English essay sounds tough for you. Remember its ok to feel anxious, and many students get overwhelmed with stress, it does make it harder to get the work done.

Have you ever considered talking to your school counselor? Perhaps your counselor would provide you some tips on managing stress.

Have you spoken to your English teacher? Maybe tell her/him how you feel about your concerns. Maybe he/she can help you improve your work.

Don't be too hard on yourself, we all make mistakes in our work. It makes us human.

I hope the best for your studies. I hope it gets better Smiley Happy

Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

Hi @Echo1 , welcome to ReachOut!  I am sorry to hear you're experiencing some problems at the moment, but this really will get better.  Do not get too frustrated with yourself - a lot of people experience similar problems and it is certainly not your fault!


It is definitely not 'stupid' to get upset over essays, to me this just shows that you are quite driven, passionate and have high standards for yourself!  It does not surprise me that this happens though - if you think that school achievement is the only positive asset you have, is it really that surprising that you are feeling anxious, frustrated and under pressure over school work? 


You sound like a very genuine, humourous and humble person! I was wondering what other positive attributes you see yourself as having, and also, are there other activities or hobbies that you enjoy outside of school? 


I think talking to your teacher is a great idea! They would definitely listen and be willing to help you.


By the way, you have shown that you are very self-aware of how the problem develops and manifests, which is really great.  Perhaps when you feel all these thoughts and feelings coming on, you could tell yourself just to let them happen?  Sometimes fighting it can just make it worse and our thoughts end up in cirlces and we just get frustrated.  What do you think about this?


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

Hey @Echo1  - I agree with @tsnyder, you sound very self aware and the way you described the anxious feelings you are having was crystal clear. I felt like I was there with you. You should be really proud for reaching out for help here - it's not easy but you have come to the right place.


As you'll know from friends around you, stress in year 12 is super common. Feeling a small amount of stress is normal and can actually help you - a burst of energy can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently (some studies even show it can boost memory). However,  what your describing sounds like it's bigger and longer lasting than that.


I's a great idea to speak to your teacher or even the school counsellor. You said you can't think of a way to word it? Well you could show them your post here - I think it describes it perfectly. Your other option is to chat to a counsellor at eHeadspace, they have web chat if you don't want to speak on the phone. Sounds like you could really benefit from talking to someone objective and outside the situation.(again, you can cut and paste the post you made above to describe the situation to them).


It's also really impressive that you've identified low self esteem as an issue you face. I'd encourage you to have a read of it's effects, but then we've also got some really practicals steps to help you improve your self-steem. Infact we have a whole section on it, including personal stories from people who have build their self esteem back up.


Keep at it and hope to keep seeing you around the forums Smiley Happy

Online Community Manager


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

Hey @Echo1 


I'm sure you've heard the saying "your own worse enemy." because you sound very smart and like you might have thought about lots of stuff and explored lots of different thhoughts and ideas.


The reason why I'm mentioning it is that when I read your post it strikes me that you're worried about being judged but I guarantee you that no one would judge you as harshlly as you are already judging yourself. You don't have to worry about showing your teacher your essay and her thinking you're pathetic and should already know how to write an essay, because you're way ahead of her. You've been thinking that about yourself for ages.


And when you are that tough on yourself, it makes the world seem like a very harsh, cruel place. And what is so often the biggest irony is that very kind, smart, sweet, caring people (like yourself) are so very mean to themselves. I bet you would never think those things about someone else.


If another year 12 student said "I'm struggling and I don't know how to do this" I bet you would offer them a kind word and a soft shoulder to lean on. 


So how come you don't deserve that?

Maybe this might give you some ideas about how to start thinking about yourself differently.


Hope it helps. Smiley Happy


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

First off, I just really want you guys to know that your responses are all really touching. Thank you so much.


@Creativegirl12 I've been seeing my school counselor for about six months now, and I see her once every one to two weeks. She does help me get more motivated and break out of the weird panic-paralysis mindset for at least a bit most of the time, but I haven't been able to book an appointment with her in a while because of schedule clashes. I've tried making appointments at Headspace, too, but I'm waiting to hear back from them. I know it'll all get sorted eventually, but it's been making me feel a bit isolated. As for the english teacher... I'm getting that the general consensus is that I should talk to him about what's going on. I haven't yet, because I feel really, really uncomfortable discussing this stuff with people, barring the school counselor. 


@tsnyder No, it's not really surprising. I've known it's been another problem of mine for a while, but being good at school has just been my defining trait for so long I don't know what to do about it. I hate school, but I need to excel in it. It's weird and really draining. I wish I could walk around and not give a rat's, but that facade would crumble the second a teacher mentions that homework sheet that's a week overdue. I guess I'm usually a hard worker, and I'm respectful enough not to pull anything too outrageous. I was really into reading, writing, and drawing, but I can't really get back into them at the moment. I like running.


@Sophie-RO I don't know, this post bares a lot more than I'd be comfortable with even my best friend seeing. I posted it on the net under the cover of anonymity, but in real life and talking to people who knew me, I don't know if I could do that. Thank you for the links, though, they're really helpful.


@NigioC I wouldn't say I'd never think those things about someone else, my internal running commentary can get pretty damn toxic at the drop of a hat. Still, thank you so much for the kind words and the link. I'm really sorry I don't have more to say right now, I'm just a bit mentally drained.


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem

Hi @Echo1 , it sounds like school is really overwhelming you right now and I know that feeling like that can be the hardest thing. While I was reading your post I couldn't help but think how similar it sounded to how I felt in year 12 about some of my subjects, so I know that it can be really difficult to take it in when people tell you that it's something you can tackle and make better.


I agree with everyone in this post about the fact that you definitely need to reach out for support on this. Your suggestion about speaking to your english teacher is spot on and remember that while it can be really hard to admit to a teacher that you're not doing great it's their job to find a way to support you in your work and help you do your best. I don't knwo if this would be applicable to you, but I found that one of my strongest sources of support while I was having a hard time in year 12 was my mum, so maybe it might be a good idea to have a talk to your parents about how you're feeling?


You've mentioned seeing the school counsellor a little bit about this and contacting headspace which is a really great start, have you thought about making an appointment with your GP about getting a referal to a psychologist or a counsellor under a mental health plan? Also it might be helpful for you in the short term to give Kids Helpline or Lifeline a try if you feel the need to talk to someone.


I hope that things start getting a bit easier soon, remember that this year of your life isn't the be all and end all so try not to be too hard on yourself Smiley Happy


Re: I don't know what to do about school and low self esteem


Everyone has mentioned that you are very self-aware, and i completely agree! It's good that you've recognised this now instead of the end of the year. You are definitely not alone in this, I remember feeling the same about English in year 12 as well. Because it is a compulsory subject, I also felt pressured to do well/meet minimum course requirements.

It's still only February and your exams will be in October, that is a lot of time for you to seek help and practice your essay writing.

I had a friend who was getting Ds for his English essays throughout year 11, but he practiced his writing and completed essay after essay to improve and ended up with a B for his exam. Anything can happen if you put your mind to it, your teachers will be there to help you.

Remember, you don't have to get straight A's to succeed. If you go up from a D to a C that is a success in itself!

sometimes it rains, sometimes it shines, this is how flowers grow