My knees quaked beneath the horror of their stares. My skin dripped with sweat, as my hands laid lifeless beside more torso. That’s exactly how I felt… lifeless. Their eyes pierced me with looks fit for a suspected criminal.

I posed for the photographer. My heart longed for an escape, while my body succumbed to the fidgety behavior of an uncomfortable boy.

Two minutes had never seemed so long. As my mouth stumbled over its final words.

“Th…thank you” I said. As I swiftly took off. My pace was that of a man that wants to sprint, but refuses to risk the further shaming. The class began to clap. But, it wasn’t the inspired clap derived from watching a great orator. No, these were claps of pity. Each boom of hands, the mocking laughter of my greatest villain.

My villain was one of the unnoticed ones. The kind that attacks your soul, but in a slow, rarely seen way. In many ways he’s the worst kind of villain. Because, he triggers no superheroes. Everyday superheroes save people from physical harm, but mental afflictions go unaddressed. I can’t blame them though, who would notice? Who could notice? I know I didn’t notice this villain in others.

In many ways, I was lucky. There were many villains that went largely unnoticed, and mine was the easiest. And, maybe, that was the problem. Maybe, my villain wasn’t strong enough to warrant a response. Maybe, he never got assigned a group of superheroes to stop him. After all, I was able to severely weaken him on my own. But, every once in a while, he leaves a small reminder that he was once here. I learned so much from overcoming him, but that definitely doesn’t mean I enjoyed his reign of terror. And that’s the funny thing about life isn’t it. Maybe…just maybe…I was better off without a superhero. To this day, I don’t really know. But I do know my villain, anxiety, is as strong as ever. I might have vanquished him after many years of fighting, but some are just starting their fight. And some, have been fighting for much longer than I did.

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