From social butterfly to fear

I have always been a very social person, extremely easy to talk to and someone who can make friends with anyone.

College changed that a lot for me.

I went from loving getting to meet new people to being filled with stress and anxiety.

The worst part of this newly found social anxiety is it made it hard for me to go to class on the first day, especially the first day ever here. The feeling of not knowing anyone and the fear of being judged, teased, or just saying the wrong thing to someone overwhelms me.

My very first semester here was a bit of a rocky start, but nothing panicked me more than going to classes on the first day. The fear of not knowing anyone basically consumed me and I went from being excited to sweating and shaking at the thought of it.

My very first class was my Connections seminar. I easily found the room, ran and hid in a seat in the back just hoping I wouldn’t have to speak or do anything. For reasons I can’t explain, I felt glued to my chair, unable to move. I just didn’t want to be noticed.

My second class of that week was Principles of Marketing. This class is also the reason I changed my major. I walked to the building, but I was terrified of asking someone if they could help me with finding it because I was told not to be “that annoying freshman.”

I ended up getting so worked up about getting to this class that I panicked, and quickly walked back to my dorm. My chest felt so tight, and I was gasping for air.

Never had such a thing really happened to me.

I have always been good in social situations. Nothing ever makes me that nervous.

I will not lie, I missed half of my classes that week because of this itchy, stressful panic I felt just trying to enter the classrooms.

It was like something was telling not to go into the room. I knew I needed to, but my body physically wouldn’t let me.

This feeling only happened when it was time for class. it was like my switch went off in my brain and I became a ball of stress.

My thoughts raced around telling me I don’t need to go, I should’ve taken more online courses, and so much more.

This feeling consumed me and I felt hopeless.

I wanted to leave.

I wanted to go home.

After the first two weeks, however, I was able to relax. The stress of classes didn’t feel like the end of the world anymore. I started to feel like my normal bubbly self.

I started making more friends in my classes, spent less time letting my thoughts control me and started to do more and talk more in classes.

The anxiety is still there, I just push through it because I know it’s not the end of the world, and everyone is here for the same reason.

I won’t lie, the stress comes ev- ery time we start new classes and the pattern repeats itself.

Walk to class, think about what kind of class it is, get flustered trying to find the room, realizing I know absolutely no one in this class.

Stress. Sweat. Panic.

This year, though, it’s different. I know so many more people than I did when I first started. A lot of my worries are mainly things my brain comes up with and I focus too much on it. Not everything needs to bring this panic, especially not something as small as going to class and having to meet new people.

I still feel the tightness in my chest, the shaking legs, like I am going to throw up everywhere, but I have learned, adapted, and can manage it so much better. Meeting new people and doing new things can be scary, I just needed to learn that it’s not the end of the world.

– Carly Centeno

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