I’m not sure which to blame this on, GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) or the social anxiety, but one of those has caused me some problems! This has been going on for as long as I can remember. Anxiety decides to abuse its’ power and control my mouth. What do I mean by that, you might be asking? Or maybe you’re not, but still. I have this tendency to have the urge to say something, and yet my mouth stays clamped shut and my vocal chords go into hiding.
I think if one were to look back at my life, this may even track back to my preschool days. I am a September birthday, and with certain months the parent can choose to either send the student in “early” or keep them and have them start “late” (in terms of what ages they turn in what grades). I ended up in preschool for two years as to start a bit later, being the older of the kids in the grade; but my mom has told me before that my first year of preschool, I was a “parallel player.” I’d sit next to the other kids, play exactly what they were playing, but I wouldn’t talk to them. I could tell you exactly what happened, who said what, who did what; but no direct interaction.
The biggest example that I can remember is during my “regular” school days. Pretty much any school years first and up. I should start with the fact that I am a closeted math geek. I’m not sure why, but people tend to be a bit surprised by this fact. In 7th grade, I had one of the best teachers I ever had, and he taught math. He, for me, is what made math fun. It stopped being about just a + b = c and became “hey, let’s hang out and learn some math!” if that makes sense. It was still about the facts, of course, but became a more fun environment. They couldn’t have picked a better follow-up to the 7th grade math teacher than the 8th grade one. They fit perfectly together, one following the other. With that, I started to fall completely head over heels for math. It made sense, I was good at it, and I loved it. What could be better?
Well, it turns out that my mouth and vocal chords had other ideas in mind. When asked to call out an answer, or even raise a hand to give one, my voice would magically vanish and my mouth would forget how to work. You could ask me what 2+2 was and I’d still stare for a few seconds before my voice felt “forced” to give an answer. This was my most confident subject, the one I knew I was almost always correct in; and yet… my mouth refused to cooperate! It wasn’t just math, either. It was any and every subject. First president? Nothing, define simile? Nope, can’t. What is Avogadro’s Constant? Sorry. (Why I still have this number in my head after over 10 years? I don’t know.)
Follow up into adult life: now if I see someone I know in passing, or if a conversation is going on with my friends or colleagues, and someone asks a question or makes a statement that I have something to answer or add, I just sit quietly and tend not to say anything. In my head, however, I am speaking. This happens pretty frequently at my job, actually. When someone asks who someone’s teacher is, or what is so-and-so’s last name… I usually have an answer, but sometimes cannot get my vocal chords to help me answer.
The more comfortable I am in a situation and with everyone around me, the more likely I am to answer, but still even sometimes in the most comfortable of situations, occasionally my voice will fail and my mouth will stay clamped shut.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this happen. Anyone else? Have you found something to combat your lack of a voice?
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