“Multiple Choice” By Hannah Laudermilch

I feel my breathing get faster as I sit down at one of the long tables in an otherwise empty room and look at the white, stapled packet in front of me. I read the instructions: “After each presented scenario, circle the best response.”

1. Your plans to get smoothies with your brother fall through.

a. Feel upset about not getting to spend time with him. Spend the rest of the night curled up in a blanket on the couch scrolling mindlessly through Pinterest. Feel guilty for wasting your life.
b. Decide to get over it and go out for smoothies with your roommate instead. Feel guilty for replacing your brother and for not feeling more upset.
c. Make new plans with him for another day, but still feel upset that it didn’t work out this time. Feel guilty for feeling upset when you know there will be another opportunity.
d. (Write your own answer here) ____________________________

2. Shortly after you move into a new apartment, someone who lives nearby reaches out to you and invites you to go see The Greatest Showman with a group of friends.

a. Think that they only invited you because they felt like they had to but go with them anyway. Feel like an awkward outsider. Regret going.
b. Know that the invitation was genuine. Go with them. Feel like an awkward outsider. Regret going.
c. Don’t go because you know you’ll just feel like an awkward outsider. Remember that you’re supposed to be trying to make friends. Regret not going.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

3. You are struggling with an algebra problem in class, and the thought of raising your hand to ask for help makes you feel sick.

a. Don’t ask for help. Keep struggling. Get upset with yourself later for not being willing to ask for help.
b. Ask another student for help. Feel dumb for not figuring it out on your own.
c. Ask the teacher for help. Feel dumb for not figuring it out on your own. Feel like a burden for infringing on the teacher’s valuable time.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

4. Your friends convince you to go to a school dance, and while there, you start to panic.

a. Stay and try to pretend you’re fine. Cry the second you walk in your front door.
b. Tell a friend how you’re feeling. He/she leaves with you. Feel like a burden for making him/her leave the dance.
c. Leave without telling anyone. Later feel guilty for making your friends worry.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

5. Someone introduces you to someone new and soon after leaves the two of you alone.

a. Feel awkward and panicky. Try to make small talk to lessen the awkwardness. Feel even worse.
b. Feel awkward and panicky. Say nothing. Feel even worse.
c. Feel awkward and panicky. Try to have a genuine conversation with the person but end up talking way too much. Feel even worse.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

I glance up at the clock every now and then: three, four, five years go by. I’m confident that no matter what I circle, my answer is always wrong, but I just keep circling answers from A to C.

264. You go on a group date for ice cream. While the guy is nice and the date is fun, you feel like there are too many people. You’re having a hard time breathing and your heartbeat feels wrong.

a. Stay and try to pretend you’re fine. Cry the second you walk in your front door.
b. Tell your date how you’re feeling. He leaves with you. Feel like a burden for making him cut the date short.
c. Say you need to leave and go without explanation. Later feel guilty for making your date worry.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

459. You start cashiering, which means that you’re now talking to people eight hours a day, five days a week. Sometimes, all you can think is that you need to get out now.

a. Keep going. You’ll have another break in an hour. Cry against the door of a bathroom stall then.
b. Tell a manager that you need a quick break and explain why. Feel like a burden for causing trouble.
c. Allow yourself to cry a little. Blame it on the onion you just rang up.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

526. You are struggling with writing literary criticism, which you’ve never tackled before.

a. Go it alone, even though you know you’re inadequate to do it well by yourself.
b. Email the professor. Feel dumb for not knowing how to do it on your own. Know that he’ll misunderstand your question because you don’t know how to phrase it.
c. Go to the professor’s office for help. Feel dumb for not knowing how to do it on your own, even though your professor was kind and happy to help. Feel like a burden for taking up his time, even though you went during office hours.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

701. Your roommates have people over, and they’re loud. And your breathing starts to get faster. And you can’t think about anything but the noise in the living room.

a. Cover your ears with your pillow to block out the noise. The cotton doesn’t block out the noise.
b. Stick in your headphones to block out the noise. Your music doesn’t block out the noise.
c. Run out of the apartment. Beat yourself up later for not being able to take the noise and for worrying your roommates.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

723. You made plans to get up early to finish your eighty-page American Lit reading and tidy up the apartment, but you wake up late and are late to class.

a. Beat yourself up for not getting up early. Beat yourself up for beating yourself up. It shouldn’t be that hard to get over it.
b. Try to make up for the time you lost by staying up late. Create a cycle of too-late nights and too-late mornings.
c. Forgo the reading you planned on doing and the tidiness—it won’t hurt your grades too much, and your roommates are messy, too. Feel like a terrible student and a terrible roommate and a terrible person.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

769. Your friend says that it might be good for you to go see a therapist.

a. Smile and say that that might be a good idea, just so she’ll stop worrying. Never set up an appointment.
b. Set up the appointment and go see a therapist. Feel like a failure for not knowing how to deal with your own problems. Feel like a burden for putting this on her, even though it’s her job.
c. Set up the appointment. Cancel it the morning of. You feel okay today, anyway.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

770. Your boyfriend says that it might be good for you to go see a therapist.

a. Smile and say that that might be a good idea, just so he’ll stop worrying. Never set up an appointment.
b. Set up the appointment and go see a therapist. Feel like a failure for not knowing how to deal with your own problems. Feel like a burden for putting this on her, even though it’s her job.
c. Set up the appointment. Cancel it the morning of. You feel okay today, anyway.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

771. Your roommate says that it might be good for you to go see a therapist.

a. Smile and say that that might be a good idea, just so she’ll stop worrying. Never set up an appointment.
b. Set up the appointment and go see a therapist. Feel like a failure for not knowing how to deal with your own problems. Feel like a burden for putting this on her, even though it’s her job.
c. Set up the appointment. Cancel it the morning of. You feel okay today, anyway.
d. (Write your own answer here) _____________________________

After seeing the scenario three times, I finally circle B, and only now do I flip back to the first page to see what test I’m even taking. I probably should have figured it out sooner: the top of the page reads, “Anxiety.” And I realize that no matter what I’ve circled, I’ve always been wrong: the answer has always been D.


Hannah Laudermilch is a writer and undergraduate student majoring in English Teaching and minoring in Creative Writing at Brigham Young University. Laudermilch’s work has been published in Salt Lake Community College’s literary journal, Folio, and in Weber State University’s Signpost (both under the name Hannah White).

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