Strands of social awkwardness

Social awkwardness is a general experience that many students feel, whether they have actual social anxiety or not. Social awkwardness is prevalent on campus, but there is no one way in which students experience it. This is the first of a series on Anxious in which I will be speaking to students at UCKAR about how they navigate this space with their social awkwardness.

Nikita-lynn Ruiters (2nd-year, English and Psychology)

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This year has been a challenge for Nikita. Her social anxiety has heightened since last year’s student protests, as she was caught in a stun grenade attack, leading her to experience PTSD. Music and writing have helped make her world a little calmer. (Photo: Guinevere Shapiro)

“Social anxiety makes me more aware of certain things. If someone is having a panic attack, I will be able to help them through it. I see the world differently to someone who doesn’t have it. I’m weary of people, so I don’t get attached too easily.

This year, it’s going to be a bit more of a struggle and a fight to be able to go onto campus. So, the protests bring out a lot of the anxiety. Don’t get me wrong; I really support them – I just need to be able to take care of myself first, which I hardly ever do. I’m trying to go onto campus more often, to better myself.

I’ve always been a person who never likes staying in reality, per se. I like creating my own worlds, having an imagination – I think that’s one of the best things ever.”

Arlene Ramokolo (3rd-year, Law and English)

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A self-proclaimed lover of the spotlight, Arlene secretly feels awkward around others. Following her passionate involvement in the protests, she has become more guarded in her interactions with people. (Photo: Guinevere Shapiro)

“People just assume that I know what I’m saying all the time. I wanna say what I’m thinking, but sometimes I worry… Am I making sense? I’m annoying people. I should shut up now. They didn’t even call me over! Stuff like that.

Talking is just a part of me. Like somebody who draws just because they love drawing, for me it’s talking. If I don’t talk for too long I actually start to think, “Oh my god, what is wrong, I need to get it out,” you know?

I love writing, singing – a lot – and drama. For me, writing is not a matter of drowning other things out – it’s drowning out myself.  It’s a nice way to get attention without saying, Listen to me!”

Header photo: Guinevere Shapiro

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