I asked you to pick the heavily anxious child out of a lineup, would you be able to? Would you pick the one slacking off, the one constantly fiddling or perhaps the one no teacher could say anything bad about? Could you be confident enough in your choice? Maybe there is some conscious vibe we give off?
I certainly wouldn’t have thought my teachers would have selected me if they’d been asked that question. Maybe I became used to hiding it under a false smile, God forbid anyone knew what was constantly racing through my mind. I will always remember when we had to give presentations, even just the thought of standing in front of my classmates was enough to cause a lump to sit in my throat and straddle my windpipe. But, of course, “everyone gets nervous talking in front of crowds” and, like that, it was dismissed. It was almost like I didn’t look anxious enough to fit their box of what anxiety was or how it presented? What form of anxiety ever fits in a box?! But another kid wobbles their bottom lip and suddenly they are excused only for them to sit at the back of the room smug and boasting about how they didn’t have to do the presentation.
Should I be pleased or even proud that I could hide this anxiety that would eat away at me? That I could appear normal? Had this morning’s breakdown not happened? I was Yasmin. The student who was always smiling, always polite and always got on with things. It’s like I’d been placed on this pedestal where I could NOT fail, and, even if I teetered near the edge, the look of disappointment would turn me into a statue almost immediately. There is nothing worse than trying to keep the plates spinning when all you want to do is run away and hide.
The thing is they didn’t know the struggle it took to get to school that morning. The words of encouragement from my Mum in the car as the knots started building, creating an almost agonizing atmosphere, or when I would stand on the train platform having a battle with myself just to get myself moving to just show up.
School Anxiety is on a whole ‘nother level. It’s like drowning in a sea of people, but you’re not even part of the crowd. There’s them, and then there’s you. Like lay lines constantly running parallel to each other, but never touching.