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Readers Respond: How is social anxiety affecting your college experience?

Responses: 38


Updated July 10, 2012

If you suffer with social anxiety disorder, everything about college can be difficult. Making new friends, living away from home for the first time, and speaking up in class can all be intimidating. How is social anxiety affecting your college experience?

Ready to See the Finish Line

I was excited like most freshmen to enter the world of college...But honestly i barely made it though. My grades were the worst they had even been and my social life was non existing. Thank God for movies. Now it is sophomore year and all I can think about is leaving. My parents a pretty much fed up with me and tell me that there is no helping me. I feel like a worthless cause. Ironically I would like to be a therapist (another disappointment to my family because I always bragged that I would be a pediatrician...I can barely get though the classes for my major, I don't need to worry about premed requirements too. I have learned not to cope with my anxiety and depression but to mask it. I HATE when people ask me how college is going. As if this is supposed to be the GREATEST think that has ever happened to me. So I tell them "I'm taking it one day at a time." That seems to satisfy them but I cant help but feeling this underlying sadness and the energy it takes to get out of bed
—Guest OneStep

My anxiety

I am a senior in college and I've always suffered a little social anxiety and panic attacks. I had a really good friend who I did everything with and then she dropped out for financial reasons, so I don't have a lot of friends at my school. It's a huge university, but I feel so alone. What gets me anxious is doing group projects, especially when we have to pick the groups ourselves. I'm a hard worker and would rather just do everything myself so I can do it the way I want. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling this anxious.
—Guest Lily

College is nothing as I imagined

Throughout highschool I knew I was shy, but never thought I had something like SAD. I felt accepted by my peers. Within my first week of my freshman year of college I knew it was more than a little anxiety. I spent the entire year avoiding anything that could possibly make me uncomfortable. Now I am commuting to my school and nothing has changed. I am still afraid to be around people I dont know or voice my opinion in class. I feel as though Im not going to be able to get anywhere in life because of this issue. I haven't told anyone, partly due to my anxiety, because I am ashamed of it. It's so hard to handle the anxiety of being around people...
—Guest trapped


Im 16, freshmen college. I was forced to take a course that i dont even like. And im really really really reallyyyy feel depressed about it.its not about that i have other dream. Its about how can i get through it? The course that they want me to take is so hard i dont want to be a failure but i just cant help it i guess its natural in me. Im dumb. I cant do it. Everyday im forcing myself to go to class. But i always ending up skipping classes. I want to be motivated somehow but i just cant.
—Guest Cantthinkofaname

So lost..

I'm a freshman at a medium-sized liberal arts college, and the past few months have been horrible to get through. I didnt even know i had SAD until i saw something related to it on tumblr, and it really struck a chord, so I looked into it more. Making friends is so difficult, I have 3 friends, all of them i met in the beginning of the year. I feel that I will never be good enough to succeed in my career, a therapist, because I need therapy, so I just dont know what to do anymore... I want help but that causes more anxiety, just thinking of talking to someone about it. I probably have depression as well, which just makes my outlook on life utterly bleak. I just wish everything would stop. I've been thinking of transferring schools, but I know that it's not the school that has the problem, it's me. Oh and I have a presentation tomorrow in my biology class... I probably will skip, since I just cant handle the judgmental staring of my peers.
—Guest Alyssa

Heart breaking.

My social anxiety is eating my dreams. I am currently enrolled in a graphic design program but I fear when the quarter is up I will most likely be dismissed from the program. You see, this is the end of my fourth quarter and the whole year has been one long downward spiral. My academic adviser is aware of my situation and has been very cooperative and more than happy to work with me, but I fear that because things keep getting progressively worse, he will give up and determine that I will not change. I have invested so much in this and I hate that each day feels more hopeless than yesterday. I want to stay in school but I know next time around will be just like this one. I will start off the term fine until eventually I will give in to the impulse to hide in my room and avoid checking my email and even go so far as to not pay my phone bill on purpose so that no one can reach me. I will cringe at every knock on the door and sleep all day with bedroom door locked so no one can get me.
—Guest Christine

Debilitating but STILL treatable!

My girlfriends talk about planning their wedding cerimonies. "My wedding will be huge- 300 people!" Me? I plan to have a small ceremony with close friends and family. Why? Because I hate being the center of attention! My face turns red and I get heart palpitations. I'm a friendly person, but not around a large group of people or my boyfriends parents- I clam up and silence myself in fear of being judged. My every action is thought out meticulously - Now I know WHY I'm so concerned about what people think of me! Medications and counseling CAN help you. I took a beta blocker for public speeches in school for a while. But now I'm seeking legitimate help now that I realize I have this slight um whats the word... malfunction in my social interactions. I CAN overcome this and YOU can TOO! Trust that. Believe it... because you can't let this get you down. You are only given the opp. to live life once. So don't waste that gift. Help YOURSELF and you can actually enjoy the life you were given!!
—Guest I won't let this being me down!!

So THAT explains everything

I recently signed up for an online summer college course- our task was to introduce ourselves in a discussion post- simple enough because this is soley an online course, right? Wrong. I started getting anxiety from having to post my opinions, and textbooks interpretations out there for the world to judge. Then I googled "fear of attending college classes" which brought me to find out I suffer from SAD! Well that explains a lot! My entire life I've struggled to seek help from my professors/teachers because I was afraid of approaching people with authority. I wouldn't attend gatherings with my boyfriend and even failed a public speaking course because I couldn't bring myself to be judged in front of an entire class of people so I skipped my classes. It was numbing. As a child public speaking never came easy- I was always acting. Never truly being able to live in the moment because of having fear of every body movement. I plan to seek counsoling because there is hope for me and you! :D
—Guest Come to a realization

Forcing Myself Through It

I'm 22 and just finished my second year of my bachelor program. This was my third college. It was also overseas, in Mexico City, to be exact. When I arrived, I decided to present myself how I wanted people to see me, rather than the scared SAD sufferer that I'd been before. Through brute force of will, it worked... for the most part. There were still days, even weeks, where my SAD and depression would cripple me. Luckily, this school was small, so class sizes were between 4-10 people. This made it much easier for me to actually speak up in class and talk to my peers. I did eventually make a few friends and attend crowded parties where I drank too much to calm my nerves and try to fit in. During my freshman year, I was offered a seat on the Student Government Association. Despite my mind screaming at me to say no, I accepted. That ended up being one of the wisest decisions I made. It made me confront so many of my triggers head on and work past them.
—Guest BNP


Wow, I thought I was alone in this. Sometimes I go to classes at my university and I try so hard to "look" like I'm paying attention and to look "normal." Then at the end of lecture, I realize I didn't understand a SINGLE WORD that was said by the professor because I was worrying about if people were staring at me and not getting the whole lecture.
—Guest Guest M

Glad I'm not the only one

My name is Ashley, I'm 20 and this is my second attempt at college. In high school things were manageable it felt like. I had good grades, talked to a lot of people without much issue but I definitely only had a few friends I could trust. After I graduated, over time I lost my friends one by one. Even my best friend I had since second grade. I stopped caring about talking to people and now I just don't. My boyfriend is my only friend because I'm too scared to just go out and do something simple like talk to people. In my mind it's easy but when I think about doing it or when I'm about to, I get so nervous. It's also frustrating because everyone around me pretty much has an indispensable amount of friends and I'm fighting with myself to keep up a conversation with someone. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one and that I'm not a "freak" like I feel I am most days in college.
—Guest Stressed

extremely bad

I used to be a smart kid, even above average, and then came SAD. Now, in college I am failing all my classes because I keep missing class. It starts with being late once; thinking about all those eyes that are going to be looking at me, I skip. Then, after missing one class, I start to think and worry about what I will say to the teacher next class, so I miss another, then another, then another until I fail. I feel like such a loser, a huge disappointment and so useless. I have no friends, my social life is non-existent, my family(who had such high hopes for me) doesn't understand me and I feel completely and utterly alone.
—Guest N.A.

Tantalus struggle

I'm a 20 year old student in second year. Last semester I failed a module purely due to SA. Labs were worth 30% and I was so conscious that I found metanoia. I was depressed all holidays and my parents hate me for it. I can't get a simple part-time job because I can't even hand in a CV. Housemates ask me to the club and I am so terrified that I often sneak off. I've never had a girlfriend because of SA. I've built a wall around myself I just need to tear it down.
—Guest dave

The Abyss

My life feels like it's in a black hole where SAD is consuming my entity. Just writing this is making my heart beat faster and faster thinking I am going to be judged. I am a freshman in college and it's been terrible. I feel like my life has no meaning. That I am not meant to share my life with another human being. My mouth is filled with spider webs and dust from having never been used to speak to strangers. I feel so lonely and depressed almost every day and believe we who have this disorder shouldn't be born at all so people won't feel sorry for us because saying sorry doesn't fix me.
—Guest Chow chow

We are at a massive disadvantage

While the anxiety is what has come to control my college career, the resultant depression is the overall consequence that consumes my experiences. The too common misconception that social anxiety is akin to a normal bout of “shyness” presents a recurring obstacle to those who, like myself, suffer from a diagnostically verified form of the debilitating disorder. More often than not, we sufferers are confronted by this ignorant assumption when we finally manage to muster up the courage to seek help from advisors, counselors, or any other college staff member in the position to potentially alleviate some of our struggles. When social anxiety is nonchalantly written off a harmless hesitance to be outwardly social that is experienced by everyone at one point or another, we sufferers find it difficult if not impossible to make a rebuttal, being that our disorder controls our lives predominantly in our social capabilities before extending elsewhere.

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