Imagine a small freshman making their way around the halls for the very first time. Four years ahead. For most a promise of great things, for this freshman a seemingly terrifying and lonely journey from point A to point B. That freshman was me.
I had crippling social anxiety. I remained silent in sports and class. I felt inferior to my classmates and talked to only a few people. Going to teachers for help was a nightmare. My math teacher would ask me to solve basic problems and I stared at my homework as the numbers changed into hieroglyphics. English teachers laughed as gibberish would appear on the screen in my attempts to replace spelling errors in meetings about my papers. It was terrible.
Slowly as high school progressed, I began to realize that the only thing standing in the way of myself was me. My love of writing was something that I’ve kept with me my whole life. So when it came time to register for classes my junior year, I signed up for journalism without thinking about the problems my anxiety would cause. In the first few months of class I did everything I possibly could to avoid interviews. I would email, say I was too busy to meet, or chose pieces without interviews. Soon I realized that my fear of others was making me a poor journalist and a poor writer:something I refused to be.
It was time for me to face my fear. I met with my counselor and talked to my parents a few times about mechanisms to cope with extreme nervousness. I started to interview my teammates and friends. Then slowly I was able to branch out to teachers and people I didn’t even know.
I watched my world transform from a two dimensional place, to a three dimensional beauty. I began to realize that the constraints of my mind, were simply that–in my mind. I firmly believe that the trick to fighting a mentality is by doing things physically that go against it.
I came to the conclusion that people are people. Regardless if they’re my peers or my teachers, people usually wanted to talk to me or help me.
My advice to people also struggling with anxiety or mental illness is to force yourself to be in uncomfortable situations because it’s never as bad as you think. Imagining anxious situations stimulates the pain center in the mind. Facing your fears is never as painful as you think. I know it’s easier said than done, but there are people here who want to see you succeed and will help you get there. Just keep reminding yourself that you are worthy of the life you want to live.