Social Anxiety and Starting School

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A book from Leesville Library on social anxiety, published in 2016. “Coping with Social Anxiety” by Heather Moehn is Leesville’s only book on social anxiety. (Photo courtesy of Abby Crawford)

Coming back to school can be exciting and stressful for different types of students. Many students including myself find it difficult to integrate back into the busy life of school. The people, the crowds, the noise, the socializing. It can be overwhelming, and often a feeling that many students don’t talk about. 

One student who experiences social anxiety is Sophia O’neill, junior, said, “I feel really overwhelmed especially with the amount of kids that are in the hallways, and also new classes compared to last year, especially with it being Junior year it’s really hard.” O’neil elaborates saying that she gets shaky and extra hyper-aware. 

Although she gets anxious around crowds, O’neil copes by talking to her friends, playing music when she walks, and using alternate less crowded routes. O’neil said, “I know I’m not the only one that feels this way so I know there’s some of my friends that feel the same way.”

Social anxiety is all around and can be terrifying if you’re shy or not great with people. It’s a feeling that should be more accepted in society. Not everyone is going to take to socialization the same and as expertly as others. 

We should look out for those who have social anxiety at school, those who are a little quieter. If you see someone struggling to make friends or be talkative around others, reach out and become friends with them. Know that students with social anxiety are one of the best friends you can make. 

As much as back to school social anxiety should be accepted, it should also be kept under control. Sometimes it can get out of hand and become too much. This is where it’s important to do healthy coping and make sure that you take breaks and continue things at your own pace. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you’re not ready for or don’t want to do. 

As seen in the picture above, a book about social anxiety that I got from the school, all of our mental health books are at least eight to ten years old. The information isn’t updated at all and the majority of our mental health books are about drugs and alcohol abuse. Our school has failed to make updated and readily available information and resources about students’ mental health and wellbeing. 

One thing our school does excel at is our counselors, who are always available to help. If you’re having a bad day, are overwhelmed, need class change, or academic help. 

Counselor Pamela Saldanha talked about different coping skills and social anxiety when coming back to school — “I think back to school is a challenge just because I think really any change is, you know, really anyone, everyone has trouble sort of adjusting to new routines and things like that…We come back to school we have to adjust and so for students that struggle with anxiety it’s a new challenge. And their meeting new people and having new classes, teachers, things like that. So all of those things require a period of adjustment.”

Saldanha continues to elaborate that everyone uses different coping skills to help themselves adjust, such as taking different routes, using routines, self talk, and positive talk. 

Having social anxiety within the first few weeks is normal and should be talked about more, just know you’re not alone in your struggle. Be patient with yourself and notice what you are feeling. 

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