Overcoming Social Anxiety

Overcoming Social Anxiety

Simone Heim, News Editor

It’s something that haunts many high school students in and out of class. It’s the deep, calming breath and shaking hands before walking in for an interview, the pumping heart before taking pictures of classes because you’re afraid the teacher or students will notice you. Even in Student Press, students like me deal with social anxiety every day.

Student Press is seen as an activity for people who are social and outgoing. You have to be able to talk to people constantly; it’s part of the job, but sometimes you go into something without remembering that you actually have to talk to people, or interact with someone that also breathes and thinks and does, just like you do.

Social anxiety isn’t just not wanting to talk to people though. It’s not some cute, flirty that-girl-is-nervous-and-adorable thing. It’s awful, and that thought process makes having Anxiety worse than it has to be. Social anxiety is wanting to go to your best friend’s birthday party, but hyperventilating in the bathroom at the party because you don’t know anyone, or stuttering when you have to ask for your dinner at a restaurant, or not knowing what to do when people talk to you, or being angry at yourself for not saying the right thing in that one conversation, or even crying because you are in a place where you don’t know anyone and you just don’t want to talk to the people around you.

When I first joined Press, it wasn’t to feed my hunger for adventure or to learn more about becoming a reporter. My teacher told me they could use my writing skills and it would count as a technology credit. I thought this would be an easy class, no effort needed and I’d get a nice, easy credit. Then I fell in love with the class and had work to do. I don’t think of it as just an easy class anymore: it was something I had a passion for and it was most definitely worth my time. I went out to shoot photos at football games and interviewed debaters and coaches at my debate tournaments, but then I had to go out and take pictures of classrooms so you, beautiful people of Westwood, could have pictures of yourselves in class doing work.

I grabbed a camera and a press badge and went out, not expecting to have a panic attack because there were people looking at me. I was terrified that a teacher would ask me what I was doing and what if they yell at me or what if they recognize me oh no oh god no please no I want to go home. I made it to the end of the upstairs E hallway and after hyperventilating alone with a camera for five minutes, I realized it wasn’t a big deal. I had nothing to be scared of. These kids don’t really care that I’m taking pictures of them doing work in a class in high school. Nonetheless, I made it back to the classroom and checked my photos, which all turned out horrible. Even though I wasn’t successful with my photography, I knew I had gotten at least a little bit closer to getting over my anxiety of being in situations with other people.