“Feelings don’t try to kill you, even the painful ones. Anxiety is a feeling grown too large. A feeling grown aggressive and dangerous. You’re responsible for its consequences, you’re responsible for treating it. But Michael, you’re not responsible for causing it. You’re not morally at fault for it. No more than you would be for a tumour.”

We all have those days where we feel inadequate, where our sense of self-worth is at an all-time low. It’s during these days where we crave affirmation from our peers, and coincidentally, it’s also when we fear criticism the most. The past weeks have taken their toll on me, from examinations to floorball training, nothing seemed to be going right. Worse still, many of my friendships were falling apart, leaving me fearful and insecure. Faced with these seemingly insurmountable challenges, all I wanted to do was to hide myself away – and so I did. I made it a point to return home early every day, and wallow in self-pity – all on my own.

A lack of confidence is easily to diagnose, for its sufferers often show the same old symptoms. Their backs would be hunched, and they tend to avoid extended periods of eye contact. Indeed, my actions mirrored my damaged ego. Even more so, I hated myself for being weak, for surrendering to my emotional fragility. They say you should always surround yourself with people that are better than you are, yet they fail to realise that it’s these same people that magnify your own flaws and make them so very apparent. I’ve always had crippling social anxiety, a niggling sense that I would always be that uncool, unimportant friend. As a result, I often shield myself with a protective bubble of weariness, afraid that I’ll get hurt otherwise.

It’s hard to find value in yourself, especially if you feel as if others don’t see value in you. It was a gradual realisation, yet an important moment, when I finally found the source of self-worth. Self-worth isn’t derived from the endorsement of others, but rather, it comes from within. All I had to do was find value in my existence, however small it may seem. I’m terribly good at inciting laughter, as I am in defusing tense situations. Moreover, I like to think that I’m a beacon of ebullience in a world that’s become far too sombre. I clung on feverishly to my strengths, and consequently, I’ve learnt to love myself more. And when you love yourself, it paves the way for others to love you too. After all, who wants to spend time with a self-loathing fool?

Blaming your own incompetence for your predicaments is always the easy option – taking steps to solve them is the true test of stoicism. It’s impossible to be unfeeling, but it’s definitely within our capacities to not let feelings drown us. Vast rivers of value and untapped potential run in our veins, and all we have to do to unclog them is to believe that they’re there.