How social anxiety affects high school students

By J1 Reporter Alida Farrens

“Sometimes someone can say one sentence to you and it can change your life forever.  Anxiety can develop because of one experience that went wrong in your life,” junior Ariana Ganson said.

Social anxiety is much more than just being shy or quiet. It is about being anxious within social situations which can cause serious emotional and behavioral problems. “It was last year in Mrs. Dye’s class,” Ganson said. “At St. Pius. I would never get nervous during presentations, but coming to Marian, something just clicked, and I got so nervous to talk. I had to do a presentation where I wasn’t allowed to use note cards, and I had to talk for four minutes straight. My mouth got dry, and I got so shaky. I just kept saying to myself ‘it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine.’  Afterwards, I felt nervous about other presentations. It always was in the back of my mind that it could happen again,” she said.

People with social anxiety fear being noticed, judged, embarrassed or rejected. “Some people suffer the most because of their family. There is so much pressure to be the absolute best. The people who have the most to lose at Marian have the most anxiety. I feel like I’m doing everything wrong sometimes,” Ganson said.

These fears can lead to a lack of normal interactions with peers, and they can negatively affect their social and emotional areas of development. When social anxiety is not properly addressed and dealt with, students can become lonely, isolated, depressed, and they can even get involved in substance abuse. “Social anxiety disorder frequently travels in the company of other emotional difficulties such as alcohol or drug abuse,” said Murray Stein and John Walker, writers of Triumph Over Shyness: Conquering Social Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety causes so much stress that sometimes students completely give up and miss out on amazing opportunities.

Photo source:

“In class there are times that I feel so strongly about something, but I get so nervous to say it, I’m nervous to express myself, and I don’t want to put myself through that,” Ganson said.

Creating relationships is one of the biggest things people miss out on. Students who suffer from social anxiety can go out of their way to avoid others. They want to avoid being in uncomfortable situations and feeling judged.

Jessica Kennedy, a junior from Northwest High School said, “I think everyone has anxiety, it just depends on the extent of it. My classes are full of anxiety because there are so many people, and you are held to a such a high standard.” The anxiety from students in public high schools can sometimes be much worse than their counterparts at private schools. “There are so many different types of people at public school,” Kennedy said. “There are people who are in real danger, and sometimes they don’t even have a place to live.”

Students are constantly put under pressure to perform well in every aspect of their life. “Between the homework required for Advanced Placement classes, sports practices, extracurricular activities like music and student government, and SAT prep, the fortunate kids who have access to these opportunities don’t have much downtime these days. These experiences can cause kids to burn out by the time they get to college, or to feel the psychological and physical effects of stress for much of their adult lives,” said Marya Gwadz, a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing in an interview with The Atlantic back in 2015.

The National Social Anxiety Center is a national association of clinics with certified therapists specializing in social anxiety problems. They have compassionate therapists who can help reduce social anxiety. Resources like this are a great outlet for students like Ganson, to use to express themselves and help lower the stress and anxiety they feel on an everyday basis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s