I’ve got plenty of these, trust me.
This episode is going to be a bit different from the last one. It’ll be an example of how strangely my anxiety can manifest itself; and how it doesn’t always show its face when you’d think.
Rewind back to my school and sixth form years. My little academic soul is thriving in the educational environment. I’ve got a close little group of friends. I’m progressing nicely towards my GCSEs, A Levels etc. But you want to know where the anxiety is, right? It’s not around my exams. Weird. Qualifications and grades are such a massive deal for me yet I feel no anxiety or stress around them. I would happily revise, quite relaxed and casually. The exams themselves are something that, generally, make most people at least a bit apprehensive. It’s a human response. But I never really got that; at least not on any level where I noticed it. Some may argue that this was because I was academic and knew I could do well in exams, hence the lack of stress. But you know what did make me nervous around exam time? Walking into the hall/exam room. Yeah that sounds slightly ridiculous now I’ve typed it out. The exams and tests themselves? Easy peasy. Making my way into the exam room? Scary darey. I genuinely felt like every set of eyes were glaring right at me. Maybe they could sense my awkwardness and bordering paranoia. Or maybe they weren’t looking at all. Maybe they didn’t give a shit about me and were only concerned about the upcoming test. Whilst the latter seems most logical, my brain was adamant that they were all watching my every step; judging and laughing inside. I was so self-absorbed and focused inwardly that I convinced myself I was the centre of attention.
Essentially, anxiety doesn’t always show itself in a way or in a situation we expect; sometimes it doesn’t show itself at all. I don’t know if anyone else can remotely relate to this, but if so, please let me know!
So I’ve been thinking of future posts; thinking quite a bit actually. I wanted something that I could keep going back to and was, ultimately, very relatable. And voilà! An idea struck me. As I’ve battled anxiety in many forms since my teen years, what better avenue to explore than retelling memorable moments of anxiety that I’ve experienced. I want to show people the reality of it all; the serious struggles, the ridiculous times, the uncontrollable nature of anxiety. If any of them resonate or strike a chord with you, feel free to give me a message or a comment. Opening up is healthy.
This particular scenario concerns social anxiety; something I’ve been trying to fight against for YEARS. It all started in secondary school and just seemed to get worse and worse. About 8 years ago, I was due to go to a very close friends birthday party at her house. I’d been there on loads of occasions so I knew the setting. I got along well with her parents too. But I didn’t know anyone else who was going. I’d not met any of the other guests before. Sure it’s natural and totally human to feel slightly apprehensive before meeting new people, but not the extent that I felt. I was fretting about it for days and days beforehand. Once I was there and was introduced to everyone, you’d think I’d have mellowed out a bit. Alas, you’d be very very wrong. I felt utterly awkward. I was terrified that people wouldn’t like me as I was being really quiet. I was worried they’d be judging me. I was scared that the first impression I was making would ruin any friendships before they’d even started. And no, I’m not exaggerating.
Once my mum came to take me home, I spent the entire journey, and long after that, talking through it all with my mum; simply rehashing the points I’d outlined above but to an almost obsessive level. Trust me, going over and over something like that is not only tedious and annoying, it’s ridiculously unhealthy and draining. But at the time, it was the only coping mechanism I knew. I couldn’t just forget about it and move on. I needed to pick apart and analyse everything that had happened. It got to the stage where I worked myself into a total state. A low mood crept over me. It was awful.
Until next time, readers x