The pressure you are under to excel must be terrible indeed for you to be so anxious. Whether that pressure comes from yourself or your family, it is not at all helpful. It is immobilizing you. It’s no wonder that you want to isolate yourself. I’m very glad you wrote to us.
Your crisis of confidence is not at all unusual when a student who is accustomed to being the best and the brightest has a set back like the one you described. As a college professor, I’ve seen it often among students who were at the top of their class in secondary school. When they come to university they have to compete with other people who were also at the top of their classes. If the student’s self-esteem is tied too firmly to being the best, he or she is in trouble. Not everyone can be the best of the best.
One common but not at all helpful strategy for dealing with the problem is avoidance. The student preserves idea that he is the “best,” but develops depression and anxiety so he doesn’t have to prove it. Claims of “trying” are a substitute for doing.
You — and students like you — need to come to terms with the fact that you won’t always be the best. Sure, you’ll excel at some things. But if you associate with other bright people, chances are they will sometimes do better than you do. If you try new things, chances are that you will fail now and then.
It may comfort you to know that many famous people have experienced failure and have gleaned wisdom from it. Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” And educator John Dewey said, “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”
You’ve tried to manage this crisis on your own without success. I suggest you make an appointment with a counselor. Good counseling can provide you with the support you need while reconsidering your sense of yourself and re-establishing your self-esteem.
I wish you well.