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TreeFrog said:
I'm so afraid to sound stupid that it kept me from particpating all semester (made a few feeble attempts in the beginning) in a class that has a 15% participation grade. The prof. even said something to me about it outside of class like "if your afraid of sounding stupid -you don't."

It wasn't enough, in fact it might have put more pressure on me to speak. I felt so inept after I left that class every time, that I either skipped it or cried about it after class was over.
That was me in my English seminar class. I think the only times I talked was when I was assigned to lead the class discussion one day and assigned to respond to someone's presentation another. In a way, I kind of blame professors for not enforcing participation more - not in a strict way, but somehow trying to get people to participate. It's too, too easy to sit there like a bump on a log and still get an A or a B for the class. (This was a seminar class, I almost never participated, and got a B!) And I don't usually care enough to want to participate. It's not worth the stress of trying to fumble around to get out what I want to say in a coherent way that somehow resembles the thoughts in my head. I can be quite masterful at responding in my head, but a complete mess when I try to convert it into vocal waves ...
 
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