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Why I Dread the First Week of School as a Student With Anxiety


So, a new year at my university has started, and my initial dread has passed.¬†I wasn’t dreading my classes ‚ÄĒ I was excited to start¬†learning and going to class. What I was dreading was the ‚Äúintroductions week‚ÄĚ and the class presentations I knew I’d have to do.

I kept thinking about last year when I started my classes; how we all had to stand up one by one¬†in front of the entire class of 100 student and six tutors to¬†introduce ourselves. We had to say our names,¬†where we were from and some facts about ourselves. It was mortifying as I¬†couldn’t think of anything and I had an accent that was noticeable¬†there.

So I dreaded the first day of class. I cannot deal with standing up in front of a class if¬†I have time to prepare myself, let alone if it is sprung on me there¬†and then ‚ÄĒ it practically cripples me. I understand we have to¬†introduce ourselves and get it all out of the way. But I wish teachers planned this with student mental health in mind. A person¬†without anxiety might get nervous at the thought, but people who have¬†anxiety can literally feel sick at the thought ‚Äď and yes, I have actually¬†vomited once when I had to do a presentation. It was the most¬†embarrassing moment of my entire life, having to run out to the bathroom¬†to vomit.

This is starting to keep me up at night thinking about it. It shouldn’t, but it does and it is unbelievably frustrating. I also know some of the modules are graded on presentations. I’ve even been told the work isn’t what’s graded the most ‚ÄĒ we are¬†actually graded on how we present it. Surely the content of my work¬†should be more looked into. When I present, I can’t look at everyone, I can’t stand tall¬†and confident. I shrink away, I shake like a leaf, my voice becomes unsteady and as I internally panic I can be quite difficult to¬†understand. A teacher once said to me after a presentation, ‚ÄúWow, I don’t¬†know about the class, but I’m glad you had your presentation on¬†the board because I didn’t understand a word of that.‚ÄĚ

Needless to say, I’m fairly sure I’ll fail if I have a presentation graded on performance. I
do understand everybody has a different learning style, and the¬†whole module cannot realistically be graded on just exams, because some people really struggle with exams. But because anxiety isn’t really talked about in school,¬†people think we’re just overreacting. Someone laughed at me and said I was being silly when I was panicking about a presentation. They didn’t realize my heart and head were pounding and I couldn’t control my shaking hands. They didn’t understand the only thing my mind could concentrate on was the panic.

I just wish we got a choice. At least a choice in presenting; if¬†we really have to do this presentation, does it have to be to the entire¬†class? Surely that isn’t fair, when some students¬†literally get sick at the¬†thought of it. But, what do I know?¬†I’m only the student with¬†anxiety.

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