If you asked me about  pressure any other day I would have laughed and told you about being pressured into washing dishes or watching my sister, but today I'll tell you the truth. The pressure cripples me, sometimes it gets to me so bad that I feel it tightening on my lungs and making it hard to breath. They tell me to make them proud only it never sounds like that to me, it always sounds like a demand. They expect me to make them proud and I do, I do because I'm afraid to step down from the pretty pedestal that they put me on when I won my first author contest at 6 and when I made my first painting at 8 and when I tested out of my reading grade level at 10. They look at me with bright eager faces and tell me that I'm doing everything that they wished they could and being everything that they wished they were. I take the classes and meet the people and I smile the smile that doesn't reach my eyes and I fidget in my seat and count to ten when I feel my stomach twist. Sometimes I have dreams where I've fallen off the pedestal and my family looks at me with eyes filled disappointment, eyes that frighten me more than spiders. When I wake up I'm shaking and my chest hurts and its hard to breath, but its not so bad because some nights I can't sleep at all. Sometimes when it gets to be too much, too hard to breath and too hard to move, I tell myself that its all going to pay off and that when I look back at this I'll laugh. But mostly I try to find ways to make it easier to breath.

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