Anxiety In Bee Minor

It’s a common word, something you see every day…

E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-S-E-D, embarrassed. That’s what I felt when I was eliminated from my school’s inaugural spelling bee in the first round. I was also I-N-F-U-R-I-A-T-E-D, infuriated, because I never wanted to be a part of the competition in the first place. As I saw it, spelling bees were not potential pathways to academic glory but rather protracted exercises in dodging humiliation. You hang in there as long as you can, take your best guess when necessary, and wipe the sweat from your brow when someone else gets knocked out on a word you didn’t know, either. That’s under the best circumstances. At the other end of the spelling bee spectrum is the real possibility of making a shameful mistake and inducing self-inflicted P-S-Y-C-H-O-L-O-G-I-C-A-L T-R-A-U-M-A, psychological trauma.

Despite my reluctance, I had trudged up to the stage with the rest of the seventh and eighth graders and haplessly plopped down onto my assigned folding chair. The gymnasium seemed uncomfortably full, mostly due to the presence of the rest of the student body and what seemed like the entire faculty and staff. That included my mother, who worked in the office. She gamely chalked up my lack of enthusiasm to the general pattern of surly behavior that was emerging in my early teens. I imagine that she was glad to be there. I just wanted to be anywhere else. Read More

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