I’m standing on the free throw line, with my basketball sneakers laced tight. The referee bounces me the ball. As soon as the ball hits my palms, I realize how sweaty they are. My knees begin to shake as if the temperature suddenly dropped below zero. I look up at the basket and my vision becomes blurry. Instead of one basket, I see three. I didn’t have to look at the scoreboard to know that this foul shot was essential to tying the game. In my basketball career, I have shot hundreds of foul shots, and I was confident in them. Yet in a sink or swim situation, my frienemy comes creeping up to pay me a visit. I smile and take a deep breath, remembering that this is not a fatal flaw, but a small herdle to jump over. Relaxed and assured, I take my anxiety and use it as fuel to shoot the ball right through the hoop. The point got added to the scoreboard, and my team cheered for me. Little did they know, that one point was earned by a lot more work than they could have imagined.

Since I was young, I have always been a perfectionist. As adventurous and spontaneous as I aimed to be, my uptight personality was always there. Around the same time as my teenage hormones kicked in, I noticed my anxiousness increasing. Yet, I would push it off to the side and fill my schedule to prevent me from dealing with the problem at hand. I felt that I should focus on school, sports, work, and my social life, and disregard the stress my mind was feeling. But then my anxiety began to take a physical toll on my body. My limbs would get numb, as if pricked with a needle full of novacaine. I would get pounding headaches that affected my thoughts and vision. One time, I had a fever for a week straight brought on from emotional stress. All of this would leave me feeling tired and unmotivated. My anxiety was taking over my body, and controlling my life.

Junior year of high school, I decided to stop hiding from my weakness. Tackling my anxiety head on, I began taking back control over my life. Just acknowledging that this trait was a part of me helped in my journey, and the lifestyle changes I made only strengthened my hold. I learned how to take my weakeness, and make it into a strength of mine. Instead of stressing myself out as an uptight, perfectionist who puts too much on their plate, I learned to control these characteristics to benefit, rather than hurt myself. My anxiety fueled me to be heavily involved in my community, take on leadership roles, and brought me many opportunities. Now, I was ambitious, a leader, a go-getter, determind, and reliable. This weakness of mine was actually only a weakness when I let it be. In fact, any flaw one may have is only labeled a weakness when you use it as one. Maybe these flaws are just distinctions given to us as tools in achieving our unique journey. We learn when preparing for a job interview that if asked about your weaknesses, spin it into a positive. What if we did this everyday? Just like a hammer is no help without a strong hand holding it, our weaknesses are only obstacles when that’s what we make them. With a strong hand, any fatal flaws could be made into your unique superpower. Except with this superpower, you do not need a cape. 

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