Sincerely, A Student with Anxiety

Jillian McGuire, Columnist

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Recently,  I was put on the spot in class and asked to make up something with zero time to prepare. As a student with high functioning anxiety I felt nervous and began to predict the worst case scenario causing me to start heavily breathing. My teacher saw my response and told me to stop overreacting and that at 16 I should know better than to act in such an immature way. 

This comment upset me so much I left class in tears. I had to go to the bathroom and focus on my heaving breathing and the sense of worthlessness I felt. I have been reflecting on this incident since it happened a few weeks ago. I was not at fault and neither was the teacher. The teacher was simply misinformed on how to treat a student like me with anxiety. So what can we do to make a difference with our differences? I want to share how my anxiety felt in that moment, and in doing so hope to have others better understand how to help those with anxiety.

Those with high anxiety like me need to start speaking up about our experiences and hope to end the stigma around it. ”

— Jillian McGuire

I have ideas to help others understand. My first idea is that those with high anxiety like me need to start speaking up about our experiences and hope to end the stigma around it. 

My second idea is that teachers who see a student clearly feeling uncomfortable should ask them in a gentle way what is going on and allow the student to feel valued rather than singled out. Let’s face it, everyone is going through something and sometimes our thoughts get the best of us. We all need to work on being more understanding and compassionate humans. 

I do not tell a lot of people about my anxiety. It does not make me weak. I just do not feel the need for everyone to know about it. The thing is if I want people to know how to better react and respond to students. I need to share my voice and what helps me. In hopes that maybe it might help a teacher understand a student like myself better or even a student understand how 

Teachers are human. Being human means it is inevitable that you make mistakes. I hope in sharing how this experience made me feel. I can better help those around me and others better understand the importance of being compassionate and gentle to those facing  high or low functioning anxiety on a day to day basis. When a mistake is made, the situation should always be assessed in a respectful and serious manner.

Jillian’s Journey is a column written by junior Jillian McGuire reflecting on her high school lessons. It will appear bimonthly on The Mustang Moon.