TIMES IT WAS AWFUL TO BE A SOCIALLY ANXIOUS CHILD
- •The first day of schoolFirst days meant meeting a new teacher and having a new group of classmates. There was a good chance you would have to go around the room and do introductions, often by sharing a fun fact about yourself. While this may be "fun" for some people this is enough to turn an anxious child to stone.
- •Lunch timeShuffled into the lunchroom like cattle to the slaughterhouse you found yourself in a loud, overstimulating room that reeked of corn dogs and recess and you had to find a place to sit amongst the chaos. On the first day of school this was especially frightening as you did not know the lunch line protocol, what friends were in your lunch, how to dump your tray and the other million mundane details that anxious children worry about.
- •Picking teamsMaybe it was just us but there was always an overarching assumption that we would definitely be the last people picked for the team in gym class. If we were picked before last there was a moment of disbelief followed by a huge sigh of relief. And that sigh of relief is followed by more anxiety about not screwing up so you aren't picked last the next time.
- •Public speakingSomething as small as yelling "here" during roll call or as huge as giving an oral report was enough to cause dry mouth, stomach cramps, jello legs, shaking hands, and sometimes complete loss of command over the English language. The stress was amplified when you were inevitably asked to "speak up" because "nobody can hear you."
- •Being sickBeing sick at school was the worst because it often meant you had to call extra attention to yourself. Having a runny nose and having to walk to the Kleenex box while the teacher was talking, having to sneeze but being too embarrassed so you try to hold it in and almost implode, or trying to stifle a cough by biting your tongue were just some of the struggles.
- •Finishing a test firstBeing the first one to finish a test seems like it might be a good thing, but for an anxious child it was yet another defeating moment of panic and self doubt. What did the teacher say to do? Do I turn my page over? Do I walk it to the teacher? Nope, I'm going to act like I'm still working on it until someone else turns theirs in and then I'll copy what they did.
- •Doing something embarrassingMost of the stress of an anxious child is just anticipatory and often the fears never come to fruition. For the times that something extra embarrassing actually did happen it would cause bright red faces, an attempt to fake sick and avoid school for several days, and then several years of reliving this event in our minds. For example, Erika called her 5th grade teacher God by accident....mortifying.