It was the morning of the first day of third grade at Seoul American Elementary School (a DOD school in South Korea). I had on my favorite shirt and new shoes. I was ready. I clutched the straps of my backpack and headed excitedly to school. I couldn’t wait to see my friends after the summer and I got off of the bus and made my way to my classroom.
The closer I got, however, the more I started to doubt myself. With every step, this paralyzing fear started to encroach upon the edges of my mind that by the time I was standing outside of the classroom, there was no way I was going inside. My back pressed hard against the brick wall of the schoolhouse. I closed my eyes and prayed that I would just meld with it; become invisible.
The teacher finally noticed a little girl attached to her classroom door as she tried to close it after the bell rang. After quite a lot of coaxing, I finally slid into my assigned seat, defeated and embarrassed.
That’s the earliest memory I have of dealing with anxiety. It would be a very long time before I could identify what exactly happened and why.
I am many years older now, but I can still relate to that girl trapped in her own mind, unable to move. In many ways I haven’t changed at all.