apostoldaniel854's blog

By apostoldaniel854, 4 weeks ago, In English,

Hello, CF.

I'm writing this blog because of a problem that affected me for some time. Going through life with this, I learned that this is more common than I thought. That's why I believe some people might relate to what I write in this blog and if that's true then it's a win for me.

Anxiety is a very broad subject so for this blog I'll remain in the realm of competitive programming.

Since I discovered Codeforces, I was fascinated by how easy it was to take a high quality contest. The first couple of contests, I didn't really care at all about my rating or how fast I solved the problems. I just solved them like I was practicing.

Last year, things changed. A big deal of doubt regarding my skills hit me. All my achievements felt like just some dumb luck. I felt like an imposter. I wanted some concrete evidence that I was worth something at all.

Since then, I feel like I trained more than ever before and learned a lot of new things that back then I had no idea of. But this doubt never left me. It even got stronger.

Also, for every onsite contest that I participated in, I never really felt that I was pleased by my results, even though statistically my results got better. When I actually performed objectively bad, it was a clear indication in my eyes that I knew absolutely nothing.

During contests, I take an enormous amount of time thinking about my end result and how it is going to affect me. Likewise, I almost lose my ability to think about a solution during a contest when I have no idea from the start. I just panic and my mind goes blank.

Now, I want to tell you about my last experience with Codeforces Round #567 (Div. 2):

My goal was so that at the end of the contest I would be master. The contest starts, I quickly solve A and then I start to panic about B. It's a big number problems and my Huge struct is not working (used it before and worked without bugs). Also, my code got to more that 100 lines pretty quickly as the panic made me write a lot of duplicate lines. I was dissappointed by my code. I tried C, but didn't read it through and wrote a wrong solution. I was at the 1 hour mark and I only wrote A. My stress levels were of the charts. I started to tell myself how stupid I was and that I should just quit the round.

But then I did something that made me feel better. I put my head on my desk and rested for about 10 minutes. Now, I felt a little bit relaxed and was able to see that I didn't need to change my code that much to get accepted. I solved C and started working on D. The thing is that 10 minutes before the end I only had A and C but I didn't panic. I'm very proud of it. I submitted D and passed. In the last 5 minutes, I also rewrote B and it passed with 2 and a half minutes left. My rating actually increases. I see this as a win, I conquered my anxiety this time. It might not feel as a big thing to some people, but it gave me the urge to write this blog.

I think that just resting is a good way to decrease your anxiety but there's also some other quick ways to cope with anxiety. You only need a couple of minutes (less than 5) and believe me when I say that you would waste a lot more time if you just ignore it:

1)
2)

Anyhow, if you tried coping with it alone and felt like nothing changed at all, you should talk with your friends/family and maybe seek professional help. You are not alone in this, a lot more people than you think have anxiety related issues and you are very brave for trying to get better.

I hope that my blogpost was useful to some extent, and didn't feel too pessimistic.

Now for the end some questions to ponder:

1) What do you think is the root cause of your anxiety?

2) What is your drive in pursuing cp?

If you have certain tips to manage your anxiety, I'll be glad to hear them. :)

 
 
 
 
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4 weeks ago, # |
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Lying on your back, tighten the muscles in your toes for 10 seconds and then relax them completely.

I get muscle cramp when I do that :(

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4 weeks ago, # |
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During contests, I take an enormous amount of time thinking about my end result and how it is going to affect me.

I think that's a very big point to make. A lot of that happened to me as well (it still happens to some extent, but it's much less affecting). This kind of thinking can really screw you up during a contest. I used to think about how I have very few attempts to show my skills in competitive programming (I started doing it pretty late), and with every more or less failed attempt, I was beginning to lose more and more trust in myself.

I think a good advice here is to just ignore it, ignore everything. Think about why you take part in competitive programming contests. Is it because you have something to prove, or because you really enjoy solving tasks and it's fun for you to think about them? If it's the former, then you'll have to find a way to detach yourself from these thoughts and just think in the moment, for your own good. If it's the latter, then forget about ratings and results and just keep doing what you're doing because it's fun. This way, you will be much less pressured by results, ratings, standings and what not. After all, no rating is a true metric of your abilities, just some rough estimate.

Nowadays I am really fond of the idea of doing competitive programming for fun, and that's why I sometimes get amused when people ask about how to improve their ratings, when people end up creating secondary accounts because "they're not in shape" and "they don't want to mess up their good rating" and other nonsense like that. (I just think that they're wasting time and energy asking such questions)

Finally, I think that at every level you will encounter tasks that you objectively don't know how to do, even though they should be easy enough. I think it's better to cope with this idea and use them to learn something new, rather than draw some stupid conclusion that you're not good enough. Your mind can work against you sometimes, but as long as you decide not to care too much, it will get sorted out in the end (and you'll feel better about yourself).

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Thanks for the answer. Ignoring everything and focusing on the tasks is a very good advice. Sometimes, I am able to do that, but sometimes it's just quite hard. Anyway, I concluded that when I don't think about the results during the contest my performance is better. I'm gonna do my best to have this mentality. I love cp and have a lot of fun solving tasks and that's why I don't want it to become too stressful.

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4 weeks ago, # |
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Everyone is different and everyone has different ways to get rid of anxiety, but what's true for everyone is that resting well and learning to not care about rating like there's no tomorrow will cure anxiety.

Back when i was struggling between blue and purple, and now between purple and orange, I was always anxious about the next CF round and this didn't work as expected every time. Then, as time passed by, I managed to finally separate the meaning of my progress in CP and a mere number which reflects your current skill.

As probably everyone here, I also started to pursue CP for performances and for awards, but I believe that the most important reason why one should pursue CP is because of fun, because achievements won't matter few years later, but the experience gained and the new friends gained can matter for life.

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4 weeks ago, # |
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I tried all these things about relaxing with exercises and ignoring it, but it doesn't work for me. Some people just have to wait for luck, I guess.

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4 weeks ago, # |
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This is so me. Thankful you wrote this.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I'm relieved to see people that feel like I do. Happy that the post was useful for you :)

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      4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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      Actually I think a lot about what others(especially my ICPC teammates) would think if I perform badly because of which I am not able to concentrate properly. That is probably the reason why I enjoy codechef's long challenge more than short contests.

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        4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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        rahulb same, i tend to think that i am not the level of my peers. i even have that i dont have the high iq and my ceiling is reached

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4 weeks ago, # |
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I just got triggered by the fact that you wrote "I see this as a win" without including "absolute".

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4 weeks ago, # |
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When feeling anxious why not close the browser for few mins? Being stressed makes us easy to make bugs or focus on only one but not working method. We may think of new ideas or bugs unintentionally. Even getting a sudden drop in rating does not implies you are unequipped. So if you really cannot work then let the contest end, and work hard next time :)

At the beginning is really fun to learn programming and elegant algorithms. But sadly to say there are nothing to pursue me at present and future. Learning more skills takes too much time, and 99% useless.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    I think it's important to get rid of stress while competing, because otherwise the next time might be the same. But, yeah, sometimes it's better to just let it go.

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4 weeks ago, # |
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If you have rating anxiety, here's an easy fix: have two accounts, and always do the contest on the lower-rated account.

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    That's even worse. When you get huge bump in rating, you start blaming yourself: "Why I didn't participate with higher rated profile, so I could get even higher"

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4 weeks ago, # |
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10 minutes before the end I only had A and C but I didn't panic. I'm very proud of it. I submitted D and passed. In the last 5 minutes, I also rewrote B and it passed with 2 and a half minutes left.

Felt that


We are the champions, my friends
And we'll keep on fighting till the end

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    4 weeks ago, # ^ |
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    Yep, the next couple of minutes after the contest I felt I could do anything =)

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4 weeks ago, # |
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I started to tell myself how stupid I was and that I should just quit the round.

This happened to me last month. Because I only managed to solve A and B (Div 2) and felt I didn't have the time to finish C, I panicked.

But instead of quitting and continuing to be angry at myself, I decided that I'll use the remaining time of the contest to practice instead of frantically trying to get more points.

So I continued to work without any pressure on C, just like it was a random problem in the problem set. I actually managed to get AC 10 minutes after the contest ended and I was really happy that I managed to solve C (the previous contest I could only solve A, so it felt like a big progress).

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4 weeks ago, # |
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My goal was so that at the end of the contest I would be master.

I had the same goal. That was the third time that I could finally become a master. And that was enough to destroy my ability to write code. I made bugs in everything. I submitted two wrong "codes" to A and I just said to myself "Are you throwing?". Then in several minutes wrote C, but... yeah you guessed it wasn't working :(

I spend like 20 minutes on debuging and yeah 50-th min and I had only A... . I just thought "nope I need to reset my mind". I went to the kitchen and drank a glass of juice and breathe deeply and said I have to take advantage of this opportunity to become master. And that was it. One glass of juice was my key to keeping calm for 30 min.

And the end as you can see I'm finally master :D.

Wish you luck in next contest. I hope you will be in the place where I'm right now :D

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4 weeks ago, # |
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All my achievements felt like just some dumb luck. I felt like an imposter. I wanted some concrete evidence that I was worth something at all.
Since then, I feel like I trained more than ever before and learned a lot of new things that back then I had no idea of. But this doubt never left me. It even got stronger.

Can't agree more. Ever since I started cp I always felt like I am very weak. I just had dumb luck and my rating is inflated. Problems I have solved are just easy ones and I would fail in the next contest I will participate.
Since then now I haven't gained confidence but accepted the fact that I am weak and participate in contests thinking that if I am weak my rating which I acquired by luck will converge to my actual skill. So, no worries.

Probably my comment doesn't make sense. But these are just things I felt and wanted to say. Thanks

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4 weeks ago, # |
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1) It's the same as you I've gone through a similar contest like you, in one hour I had only solved A, then by the end, I had ABCD. That contest was very hard to go through but eventually, it went well.

2) To be honest, I liked coding, and the rating is a big trap for me it is beautifully described by Bob Marley for money — > “Money is numbers and numbers never end. If it takes money to be happy, your search for happiness will never end.” We can change money to the rating for competitive and almost anything else. Numbers never end so if you keep pursuing higher numbers you will never be happy.

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4 weeks ago, # |
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Congrats. You managed to become Master.