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You are terrified of being picked on — especially in a group of two hundred students. When the professor is looking for someone to answer their question, you pick up your water bottle to drink. You scan through your books like you’re looking for the answer. You cough or sneeze or reapply chapstick.
You do whatever you can to appear busy, to mentally convince the person in charge not to choose you, because the last thing you want to do is speak in front of that many people. It doesn’t matter if you know the answer or not. You’re still worried about looking dumb somehow. You’re worried your voice will shake or your words will ramble.
Even worse, you are worried about getting a bad grade — even though you have read every assignment, even though you have aced every quiz, even though you have tried hard to impress every professor. But most classes have a participation grade, and the last thing you want to do is raise your hand in class.
Staying quiet makes you look like you don’t know all the information you should, but really, you know more than anyone else. You just don’t want to speak up. The idea of talking out loud makes your heart beat fast and your cheeks turn red.
For some strange reason, most teachers either don’t realize this or don’t give a damn — which means you’re screwed out of that perfect grade you know you deserve. That’s what happens. You get screwed over yet again for having an anxiety disorder you have no idea how to control.
And that anxiety grows worse when you get stuck in certain situations — like working on group projects. If you’re alone in the class, completely friendless, and get to pick your own group, you freak out because you don’t know who is going to pair up with you. You don’t know how you’re going to ask complete strangers to include you.
And even after that group forms, you’re still nervous. Even though you’re a hard worker, the type of person who always ends up doing the majority of the project while everyone else slacks off, you end up looking like the lazy one when it’s time to present because you’re too afraid to talk. Everyone else speaks for you and it looks like they did the work. It looks like you did nothing.
Sometimes it’s hard to make it to class, even when there isn’t anything much going on that day, even when there aren’t any groups to collaborate with or speeches to give.
Just the idea of getting on a bus packed full of students, the idea of sitting at a desk close to someone you barely know, the idea of spending all day around so many people is too much to handle. It makes you want to sleep in and forget all about your diploma. It makes you want to give up.
Anxiety sucks, because it makes college even harder than it has to be. It makes life even harder than it has to be. It creates a never-ending source of stress. It makes you feel like you’re losing your damn mind.