social anxiety.

I realize that very few people understand social anxiety. Most, if not all students, understand the word "anxiety" but the problem with the word is that it is perceived to have only one definition, and only one symptom for everyone. Growing up, it was hard for me to find people who took my anxiety seriously. I could not explain how alone I felt, and in fact, it was too scary to try to explain. My social anxiety was compared to shyness, and presentation jitters. Therefore, when I complained, I was in so many words told to "suck it up." When I first listened to the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack I was moved to tears. I had never heard lyrics portray my past high school struggle sharply to the T. When I researched the musical further, I learned that the storyline was a high school senior with a social anxiety disorder. I cried some more. I thought, "finally" people will understand-

I wish I had someone to educate me on social anxiety when I was in elementary and middle school. I wish I had someone to tell me I was not pathetic, and that my feelings were real. My fears were real. I wish I had someone to guide me as I explored my struggling self-esteem. But I didn't. I have those people now, and for the most part I educate myself. In school I always looked around and wondered if another student was feeling the same way as me. I am sure there were many others, but social anxiety had me self-absorbed. I was different, nobody else. I always wished I had found a familiar voice, or a mentor perhaps, with the same anxieties to relate to. I began publishing my stories in hopes that I could be that "miracle voice" for another student feeling pathetic, or all alone. 

I understand that anxiety disorders are different for everyone. Social anxiety is different for everyone. My stories do not define anxiety.