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I do not speak first. It takes a whole day worth of preparation for me to have the courage to order food at a drive-thru window.

I can’t answer phone calls from numbers that I do not know. Starting a conversation with a stranger is like having someone peel my flesh from my bones. I’m afraid to make eye contact with new people, so everyone I see thinks I’m stuck up. I am afraid to text even some of my closest friends for fear that they will not reply.

I act like I do not care when I care the most. I hurt because I cannot function the way that others do. I cannot take breaths without them being too deep. I come off as an insensitive jerk because I cannot force a smile, everything seems fake. I do not mean to have resting bitch face, it just happens.

I am only doing what I have to in order to make it through the day.

Any social interaction is like hell fire to me, I cannot go to a job interview without shaking like a tweaker coming off of their favorite drugs. I don’t do drugs, but I am awkward. I do not know how to calm myself. My nerves will not let me relax. People assume I sit and judge because of the silence and lack of joy in my face. I do not, I sit and think how amazing it is that these people are able to converse without knowing one another, they talk as if they have been friends for years.

These people do not know how fucked up I am, they do not know that I have anxiety. They think I’m ‘just quiet’ or ‘shy.’ They don’t care to ask, They don’t ask if I am okay because I am not hyperventilating into the paper bag that I always carry in my purse. I have not fallen to the floor. My meltdowns are something I work hard to control.

I internalize everything in public, this is something I do in hope of keeping attention off of myself. However, just because I am not having a panic attack does not mean I am content. I am dying on the inside, choking on the words I cannot speak. I am still nervous, I do not know what to say next, although I have already gone over my next words twenty times in my head.

Someone from across the room looked at me, I sink a little lower. It is time for me to escape into the bathroom. I need to chill out for a minute and be alone so that I can keep my composure. I am not okay and I am not a bitch but you will never know that. I hate myself, I am forced to go to war within myself everytime I have to answer a question.

I did not choose this.

This could happen to anyone, I am so unlucky. I am jealous of you and the things you can do. I look like an asshole, but I’m not. I’m just an anxious young woman trying to get through my day without having a panic attack. I don’t want to go home and explode because things had gotten too overwhelming right before time to leave, but I do. I cannot fight this.

This is who I am.

I want to be liked, I want to talk to you all. I want to smile back at you when you glance from across the room. I want to make eye contact because that’s what you all do.

I don’t want to have anxiety, but I do.