“Why didn’t you come to the school dinner last night?” “Well, I think I have anxiety when in social settings”. ‘But, you came for the school retreat, didn’t your SA stop you then, eh!” Social Anxiety (SA) is psychological distress relating to the fear of negative evaluation by others while Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is an intense persistent fear. Individuals with SA can avoid situations or try to overcome their discomfort/fear. I am comfortable in social settings that is educational while avoid settings where you need to socialize and joke to not be judged as a loner.

In a role play session with first years, I found only two volunteers to do the role play among the group of 15 learners. I was afraid that I could affect their learning if I was persistent in making them do the activity. I have seen students excel when being pushed beyond their comfort zone and other students tell me how glad they are that they were pushed. I dint push because I didn’t know who to push and how much. I explained my situation to the lack of rapport and me not explaining well to the learners the importance of this session.

A survey showed that SA is more common than we think it is present. Frequent loneliness, inhibition and discomfort in social settings was reported by approximately one-third of students surveyed. Only a small proportion of students reported seeking help for SA.

Empathy goes a long way in understanding persons who are different from you. SA also should be put in list that needs to be accommodated in a learning institution. This brings out a little more inclusivity in our society.

Have you experienced or noticed SA?

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