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My Diary

I don’t raise my hand despite knowing the right answer!

Ritika (15) panics at the thought of talking to strangers or speaking in a big group. At first, she thought it was just a phase but then it became a part of her everyday life. She couldn’t even raise her hand in class to answer a question or go on to the school stage to read the weather report. She shares her diary entry with us. 

Dear Diary,

So I talked to the school counsellor today. I had been thinking about it for a long time and I finally did it. It wasn’t that bad! I actually felt she was quite nice to me. 

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I told her about the incident that happened yesterday when I went out with my friends to this cafe and couldn’t bring myself to order for everyone. It was my party yet I had to push one of my friends to do this – it was so embarrassing. I felt like everyone was judging me. 

And yesterday was just the last straw. This anxiety about speaking or interacting with strangers or in public has been living with me for a while now. I can’t bring myself to raise my hand and answer in class even when I know the right answer. I feel like people are always looking at me, secretly judging me behind my back. Something as simple as a phone call from someone outside my immediate circle stresses me out nowadays. 

A couple of months ago, our teacher announced an inter-branch debating competition and I wanted to participate in it so badly but the thought of speaking in front of all those people and talking to teachers scared me so much that I didn’t even try. 

I’ve read on the internet that these are signs of social anxiety but when I tried to tell my sister about it, she said that I was just overthinking it and creating problems for myself. But it’s not like that. I tried so hard to be normal about it. I even forced myself to participate in a small school event, but when it was my turn to go on the stage, I was panicking so bad I gave myself an actual stomach ache. It’s just so stressful.

It’s not like I like being this way, I just can’t help it. I don’t know what to do. At first, the counsellor thought maybe it was a recent change but I remember being in this state for a while now. I have now stopped participating in school events because of this. 

It felt good to feel heard by someone other than myself. My counsellor said I should talk to my parents about it and that she would do some activities with me to help me deal with this better. To be honest, I was dreading talking to her about this, but it really helped to talk to her. Maybe I’ll talk to my parents pretty soon too but I will need some time for that. But for now, I feel better to have taken the first step towards helping myself. 

Photo: Shutterstock/paffy/Person in the photo is a model.

To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed. 

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