Interviews and Anxiety

This is a personal, and somewhat embarrassing post. So if you feel uncomfortable with those things, skip on down to the next post.

Let’s go back to second grade and a UIL team being formed for an event called “Storytelling”. The premise is that you are told a short story and then one by one you come back and retell the story. So you listen, interpret and retell. But I apparently had some performance anxiety. So much so that I still vividly remember the tryout day. I had been practicing for weeks with a teacher. Being an overachiever with parents that were oh so proud of their excelling little girl, I was excited and nervous at the prospect. On tryout day, they told us a story, and I listened. Then I walked out and had no recollection of the story at all. They handed out numbers for our order and I, of course, got the last number. I think there were probably 10 of us. I excused myself to the bathroom. I remember shutting the door and crying. Sobbing and sobbing hoping I would disappear. Some girls asked if I was ok. I said yes, but then came the knock from a friend saying I was up next. I remember not being able to stop crying. I was frozen. Eventually a teacher came and got me out. They led me to the room where the teachers were waiting for me and in between stifled cries I said, “I don’t remember the story.” They looked sad. They tried to coax something out of me. They asked if I remembered a tree or another character that had obviously been in the story. I couldn’t function. I shook my head no and was finally led out to cry by myself again. They made us wait for the results. I think a teacher tried to hug me. But I was just a ball of small sobs. I went home and cried to my mom. This day almost 30 years later still haunts me. It made a lot of impacts on my life. And I’ve tried so very hard to never have that day repeat itself.

But that day came yesterday. I’ve been working on so many different projects and events that my mind is just mush. I had an interview yesterday. One of those long ones that involve talking to several people at a company. An interview loop. Everything was going as smoothly as an awkward girl could hope for. I stumbled and said a couple of things you probably shouldn’t say, but nothing crazy. I got food caught in my teeth, but I recovered. Then came the technical part. I was so afraid of it. I had been working on my Machine Learning class for days to get it done before SXSW weekend and just hadn’t had time to refocus on Python. So I froze. I didn’t cry this time. I just shook. My brain was empty. I couldn’t pull anything out of it. My hands haven’t shaken that much in ages. It was totally and utterly embarrassing. I know how to code, but I apparently suck at it under pressure. The guys in the room looked baffled and sad. I instantly recalled my teachers. They were trying to coax some spark, but there was just nothing I could do to make it pop back into my head. I kept looking at the piece of paper and nope. I was able to recall database structure, but Python, nope, just a pile of “huh”? I briefly looked it up on my phone after and slapped my forehead.

Thankfully today is better. My body is no longer vibrating and I don’t gasp every few minutes from my brain recalling the ordeal. I’m writing this incase someone else has had this feeling before. You’re not alone. Performance anxiety is no fun. I’ll be looking into resources for this and will update this post with some useful links. But for now, I needed to get this out. If you’d like to trade stories, comment or send me a message, I’m irma at

One comment

  1. Alex says:

    It’s going to be okay sister. You are a amazing person! I Had no idea that happened to you when you were a kid. I believe in you. And have always looked up to you. Mom and dad gave me the gift of work ethics, but you gave me hope and a dream to be as smart as you are. Although I fell short of my goal I still work on improving myself. I’m always here for you and will help you as much as I can.

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