As I promised you, here is my first post relating to the daily struggles of being a teenager. If we were sitting in a circle, I’d ask you to put your hands up, but since I can’t see you, we’ll use our best creativity tool – our imagination.
So, if you’ve ever started at a new school and had to go through one of the hardest teenage struggles – making friends – come and join the club. Last year, year 9 for me, I started at a new school, and if you’ve ever started at a new school, you’ll know what a truly terrifying experience it actually is (note: that was NOT exaggerated AT ALL.) I can honestly say that getting out of the car and walking towards a group of unfamiliar faces that stare at you as if you’re an undefined species from the planet Mars is nothing short of a realistic nightmare. I mean, it’s hard enough as it is, but when you’ve got the personality of a hermit crab and don’t own a shell, it gets about ten times harder.
It’s been a whole year since I went through that experience, and I can still clearly remember the growing hole I felt in the pit of my stomach. For a solid term, I hated school. I’d tried to walk in with a positive attitude. “I’m going to enjoy this, I’m going to make friends, and I’m going to have a good year.” As much as I want to tell you this worked and I made hundreds of friends in the first couple days, I’d be lying. My positive attitude soon turned VERY negative. I convinced myself that no-one liked me and that I would never have any friends, and it worked. I hated every bit of it, and the only way to change that was to change my attitude. That sounds easy enough, right? Just be more optimistic. But when you discover that you have severe anxiety – including panic attacks and the butterflies never going away – it’s a little less than easy.
Once I knew I had anxiety, it was like everything was forced into overdrive. I started stressing more, most mornings before school I left in tears, and I had panic attacks probably three or four times a week. I stopped enjoying the things I loved like hanging out with the friends I did have and going to youth on a Friday night.
Eventually, I convinced mum to take me out of school so I could give homeschooling a go. That seemed like it would fix everything. No social interaction meant no anxiety. At least, that’s what I thought. Homeschooling actually made things worse. I was home alone every day because my parents work and my younger sister was still at school, so the only communication I had was with my dog, and that didn’t do much for me. As for the workload, if I thought school was hard, then homeschooling was a literal nightmare. Because it was all online, I had to teach it to myself, and learning something like trigonometry without a teacher is physically impossible. I eventually started seeing a psychologist, and slowly, things started to get easier.
After homeschooling for a term and a half, I decided it wasn’t for me. (Especially when I discovered old William Shakespeare and his wonderful way of writing.) My parents and I went for a meeting with one of the teachers from the school, and she said she was willing to help me ease back into school to make things a little easier. So that was it, I went back, and it was honestly a completely different experience from what it had been three months earlier.
Some advice from someone who got through it: if you think that no-one else knows what you’re going through and that talking to someone about what’s going through your head will not help, YOU ARE WRONG.
Now, my second year at school, I have a wonderful curly-haired giant of a best friend (who, if you can believe it, is almost a head taller than me!) and a great group of people that I sit with at lunch. I may still look like an alien to some, but to the people I can now call my friends, I’m a person who can smile and laugh and have fun, just like everyone else.
I know this was a bit of a long post and I’d like to apologise if it seems like I was droning on about my problems, but I know there might be someone in particular out there who might be going through some of the same things I went through not so long ago, and I’d like to tell you that you WILL get through it and things WILL get better. Just hang in there and stay strong!
Until next time,