I have anxiety, but more specifically social anxiety. As an early adult, I can remember getting ready to go out for the night with some friends of mine, and just feeling sick. I couldn’t eat or drink, I’d get super clammy hands, and have an awful tummy ache. I didn’t recognize that it was anxiety though until several years later when someone suggested it to me. Now I know why I feel the way I do when I need to engage in social behaviours like interacting with other school moms, or going to parties or events where we’ll be meeting people. Now I understand a bit more about why I feel so anxious getting on planes… it’s not the fact that the plane could crash and we all may die… it’s the fact that I need to be in a small space with so many people I don’t know. What if I have to sit between two strangers and have a conversation?! Worst nightmare.
Based on my own experiences growing up and as a young adult, I have an easier time relating to my little ball of anxiety, Aisha. She has not been diagnosed with anxiety, but it is fairly obvious. We have an appointment with a paediatrician coming up soon to help her find more tools she can use to cope.
I put Aisha in Brownies this year, as she has been begging to go in it for years. She was sooooo excited! But here’s the thing… kids with social anxiety may really look forward to the activity, but all their little anxieties about meeting people, saying something silly, not knowing what to say, or coming across as shy… all come out. I took a picture of her right before her Brownie meeting started, and I have never seen a more accurate capture of her while feeling anxious. She is excited and happy in this picture…. but also terrified.
I’ve decided to join her unit as a leader, in part because they needed another leader to meet ratios, but also so I can be there to help her transition and feel supported. She is a gentle soul that is not always understood, and if I can help her be understood or even be the person to understand her, then I will.