Matthew Schreiber Personal Essay

Personal Essay

Q3 Benchmark

Matthew Schreiber

“What is the role of individuals in creating and sustaining change?

Coming close to death can make you very nervous about everything. Imagine if you spent your entire childhood hearing nothing, but phrase like “you’re lucky to be alive” or “you need to be careful, you don’t know what can happen outside.” This doesn’t help especially with the news always talking about the dangerous acts happening outside. Again and again i would hear the warning that if my back was hit hard enough I would become paralyzed because of the state that my fragile spinal cord.  As you can probably imagine, I grew up as a very nervous child afraid of the world and even afraid of everyone I ever came across. Most children are curious to the things around them and like to explore, but I sat instead of being curious, I was worried about what could or could not hurt me. This made me really distant from people and I wouldn’t talk to anyone until they talked to me first. This mindset I have went unnoticed by me for years until my last operation on February 3, 2011.

It started when I got home on February 10 (a week after my operation). I was already aware of my limitations with the rods in my back. Now more than ever my Mom tried to limit all the things I could do. Stuff that I saw as normal, my mom saw everything as deadly and it made me realize that this is how nervous I act about everything. Now to go into detail by what I define as nervousness, I mean that I tend to overthink everything and it leads to me coming up with some odd scenarios. For example when I started to go downtown to go to SLA. My old school was right up the street from my house so going from up the street to taking a bus downtown and walking was something huge for me. This led to me over thinking over and over again about if something went wrong downtown how would I get home or what if I miss the bus that I usually take and instead get on a bus that causes me to be late because of traffic. The thought about traffic causing me to be late is why even to this day I get on a bus at 6:30 AM and get here at 7. I’m still worried about being late. As silly as this sounds even the bus ride itself makes panic in worry. I can’t explain why. I just feared that if something bad were to happen while I was on the bus. What could I do?

In the terms of thinking before you act, I wanted to do less thinking and more of the acting portion. I wanted to be a person who could live a normal day without panicking over the silliest scenarios. I could do everything without second guessing the decision no matter how small the decision was. It’s not that I want to be a person who doesn’t regret decisions (that’s impossible). I just don’t want to regret decisions that I panic over, but the normal person just brushes off.

Fast forwarding to sophomore year of high school is when i tried to make my change occur. I had known the routine at SLA and figured that there was nothing to be nervous about. I tried speaking out more in class instead of sitting there thinking to myself. However it just so happened this year was the year of majority class discussions. I absolutely hate group discussions. Mainly because people take what is said in discussions to heart and it causes people to react poorly to others points of view. Every day I would tell myself that if there is a class discussion then I should speak. I kept it as my mantra, but every time a group discussion came around, I would sit there think of scenarios about how people would react to what I would say and then getting nervous because of the reactions I brought up in my head.

I tried and tried again, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t change. I decided to find out for myself what was stopping me from changing. The best I can come up with goes once again back to my time in the hospital. Back in the hospital it would always be the doctors talking to my parents, never directly to me. instead I would sit their thinking to myself about what could go wrong and what was going to happen to me. This mindset of thinking to myself till I fill myself with worry has followed me throughout my entire life and I still have it with me today. When there are class discussion I am completely inactive to the discussion because I’m busy thinking how people will react to my thoughts. I’ve become a person who can spend his entire time just listening to other people talk because I’m just over thinking about everything.

In the end, I don’t think it truly matters if i ever change this part about me. My role in life would still be generally the same, regardless if I change how much nervous i am or not. An individual’s role in change should be to only change problems of the world rather than problems involving themselves. No matter what you would like to change about yourself, you can still make a change somewhere. However the difference between trying to make a change about yourself and one of the world is that you will know yourself if you change yourself, but when it comes to issues about the world, everyone has a different view on when enough change has occurred on a world issue. I really want to change my nervousness, but I know there are changes I can make as well. There are way larger issues than a person trying to overcome their nervousness. i would much rather have my role to help make a change in the world rather than attempt over and over again to make a change in myself.

Comments (9)

Mingxue Zheng (Student 2015)
Mingxue Zheng

I am so related to your experiences. I sometimes panicked and have anxiety attacks out of nowhere. I sometimes don't even know what I am stressed out about. I really love this essay. I learned so much about you. I never know we are that similar.

Symone Mc Collum (Student 2015)
Symone Mc Collum

I loved this. Not only were you completely open with your life but this related to so many people who are just as afraid as you and won't speak up and explain why they are nervous or afraid. My mom is a worry freak too for various reasons and it does rub off on you once you hear it enough, so I can definitely relate. I also love how you say that you would rather create a change in the word rather than yourself, but don't give up on the change you want to see in yourself if it's what you really want. Won't happen overnight, but it can be done. Great job.

Richard Yoeun (Student 2015)
Richard Yoeun

I know this nervousness pain that you felt like doing something new. I think this is an excellent show of change and also just mentioning how you did overcome that nervousness.