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Taking Discussion Classes Has Helped My Social Anxiety

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

I think all humanity major girlies know that most, if not all, of our classes are small. A small class usually equals a discussion class. Even in general ones I’ve taken, I realized pretty quickly that most of them called for some kind of participation or group work. As a socially anxious girl, that wasn’t doing it for me.

This one history class that I took changed something in my brain chemistry. I had one of those professors who chose people to answer his questions by calling their names from a list. Every class felt like a game of Russian roulette. Guess what? I made it in his roster of regular players. Lucky me.

My professor had me answer at least one question every class, and they were history questions that I had no idea about. I was constantly stressed, paranoid, and scared of sounding stupid in front of the whole class. But if you’re someone like me, fear not: There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I guess people who preached about things like exposure therapy and “gaslighting” yourself were onto something for me.

Being forced to participate in class made me used to doing it. Apart from this, I also kept repeating to myself that no one would remember what I said after class. I still do it to this day. I was the one all up in my head. No one cares, and to me that’s comforting. I was the one holding myself back.

Being socially anxious in university is inconvenient for me. We’re constantly surrounded by new people all the time. We have to network, communicate, and make ourselves known. Also, learning how to interact with new people and conveying your ideas are fundamental once we start working professionally.

I used to dread taking discussion classes, but now I see them as a blessing in disguise. They’re the best way for me to get the ball rolling. They offer the perfect space to start engaging with others — a bubble for me to practice exposure therapy. As Nike says: “Just do it.”

There’s no need to start big. Baby steps are the most helpful for me. I make a little comment here and there. I establish goals like speaking once a week or once every class and build up from there. I sometimes even attempt to go to office hours and get to know my professors so I can feel more comfortable speaking in their classes. If you like throwing yourself off the deep end, do something big and out of your comfort zone. Once I go through the worst, everything else seems like a child’s game.

If there’s an ideal time for me to start overcoming social anxiety, shyness, and fear, it’s during university life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most extroverted person now. Sometimes I still feel anxious about speaking up: I still get the jitters, my voice shakes, and my body trembles after I’m done talking. It requires so much effort for me.

But in general, it’s all about putting yourself out there and being willing to try new things, even if you’re afraid. There’s nothing better than a character-building arc!

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Maria Tello is a staff writer at the Her Campus at Florida State University chapter. She became a member of Her Campus in the spring of 2024. She writes about relevant cultural news, lifestyle articles, and about campus life at Florida State. Maria is a transfer student from the Republic of Panama campus. She has participated in many conferences, such as the Harvard Association for Cultivating Inter-American (HACIA) Democracy, winning various awards for her role in the press committee. As a member of the Press Committee, Maria was involved in writing articles, organizing her school’s debate conferences, and managing several social media platforms. Currently, she is a junior at FSU double-majoring in English (Editing, Writing, and Media) and International Affairs. In her leisure time, Maria spends most of her time reading books. Her favorite genres are Fantasy, Romance, Classic Lit, and Poetry. She loves to listen to diverse genres of music, and her favorite group is BTS. To center herself, she enjoys going to the gym, and arts and crafts such as painting. Her favorite artists are Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco Goya. She is also a Harry Potter and Greek mythology aficionado. She can speak Spanish, English, Cantonese, basic Korean, and looks forward to learning more languages.