I'm seventeen. I turn eighteen in 2 months. I'm going to college in the Fall.
And I just had my mom email my teacher for me to alert her of my anxiety before my final presentation.
So here are the thoughts I want to be having:
"I'm pathetic. I can't email my teacher myself, so my mom has to do it for me."
"I can't just suck it up and tackle this, I'm a failure."
But this is what I should be thinking:
"Ok, I know I can do presentations. I have proved it to myself before. My anxiety is just too much for me to handle right now, and that's okay."
"I have every right to reach out for help."
"If I can't do this entirely on my own, it's okay if someone helps me out. It doesn't mean I am incapable of doing all things on my own. Just today, I need some help."
"Hey, I am okay now. My teacher is aware, she knows I may not be able to handle it, so I can breathe now, I don't have to hide anymore."
I get myself too worked up. I have been sobbing for over a week over this stupid presentation. It's for my Foods class. I would be fine reading a powerpoint, but for some reason making something at the front of the class seems terrifying. ON TOP of my social anxiety, my presentation is on my Papa's birthday. The last time I saw him was on his birthday last year. I am flooded with overwhelming emotions.
My mom started to get frustrated with me. "Haley you get yourself so worked up, if you say you would rather take a zero, then do it, I don't care what you do anymore I just want you to calm down."
I took it harshly. I want to be able to do this, doesn't she understand that? I just don't know if I can.
In many ways, though, she was right. If I am crying this hard and hating myself over my anxiety, maybe I should just stop doing this to myself. I just stop pushing myself so hard, and give myself permission to say "I can't."
Social Anxiety is a downright BITCH. Our social life is all around us. We need communication in the real world. When you have a social anxiety disorder and you struggle with little things in your social life, it can cause you to hate and blame yourself.
I grew up being ashamed of myself for the fear I faced in social situations. I grew up believing I was fighting who I was, and "who I was" was "pathetic."
At my age now, I am able to be more vocal about my social anxieties, and speaking up helps me to realize I'm not pathetic, I'm not weak, and I'm not alone. However, I still struggle with asking for help when my anxiety arises, and I still struggle with not blaming myself for my feelings.
This is what I want to point out. 2 Topics:
Social Anxiety does NOT define your overall courage. In fact, having social anxiety does not make you a coward. It can make you feel like one, and that is not okay.
When you are standing in line to order food and you feel your heart racing, or when you are sweating and stuttering during a presentation- you are not being cowardly. Anxiety is plain old discomfort. We tend to blame ourselves when we experience uncomfortable feelings.
Today, my mom needed to help me send an email. That does not judge how I will perform in college, or in life overall.
*When we begin to blame ourselves for our anxieties, we must take a step back.
- acknowledge the small successes in our day (whether it's "hey I got out of bed, I read a chapter in a book, I talked with a friend, I paid at the cash register, etc.")
- reflect upon times when we were proud of ourselves, or others were proud of us
- think hard if you have to, but think of qualities you possess that do show your courage.
Now here's mine:
I am courageous because even though I struggle with social anxiety, and even though I fall apart and breakdown because of it, I try. I may struggle, things may not always be presented perfectly, but I am damn courageous for trying, and trying shows that I am fighting against this bastard battle of mine. I am not quitting on this battle if some days it is too much for me to handle. All that matters, is that I breathe, relax, get back to being me, and pick myself up and start trying again.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.