Working in the school system, I definitely know kids show the exact same emotion in multitudes of ways. Some clearly, some make ya guess, some productively, some not so much. While listening to a webinar about anxiety in school-age students, the speaker described the manifestation of what we see… disconnecting, overload, walking out, or quiet, hidden. I add the doodler, because it’s not always boredom that starts them drawing. The quiet or shy one, from all outward appearances, says all is well in the world. “I’m good.”, is what you hear. Is it ‘shyness’ causing them to sit quietly and slip inward? Hoping to go unnoticed is all too common. This profile particularly struck me when I realized she was describing me as a child!
I was outgoing with trusted friends, and most would describe me as very gregarious, particularly outside the classroom. I am not even sure they had the word anxiety and doubt anyone would have applied it to me. Whew, when it came to asking questions in class, seeking help I needed, talking with unfamiliar, older students, bombs of butterflies and loss of words consumed me. If trying to communicate difficult or complex emotions, forget it! I had both articulation and language issues as a child. My kindergarten report cards has ‘sometimes’ for “Speaks in complete sentences.” I am sure the embarrassment of not being understood, meagerly formulated ideas, lingered around me long after the concrete struggle was gone. I remember feeling wonderful when a high school teacher telling me after I’d shared one rare day, “That was great, what you said. You should speak up more often.” Not sure I did.
You are wondering, “What’s all this rubbish got to do with journaling?” Writing my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions on paper became my voice, my release. The presenter suggested helping the reluctant, the anxious student send an email to the teacher, asking for help, explaining what’s hard. I grew up in the wrong era. I would have been all over that! Ha! The teacher probably would have blocked me due to over use.
As a young adult, communicating complex feelings was still a challenge. Ever found yourself crying as you are trying to explain your feelings? That was me every.single.time. My compensatory strategy (as we call them in the schools) became writing a letter to the person, revising and revising until I figured out exactly what I felt and needed them to hear. It seems eventually everyone got a letter from me, (insert eye rolling emoji)
Yeah, I believe journaling is for absolutely everyone. That’s why I am here, because I believe journaling can save the world! Consider slipping that journal, that piece of paper in front of that child that manifests any of those anxious profiles. Oh, I have come to terms with journaling doesn’t please everyone and surely I know that child may need much more than a piece of paper. Could be a start. It might help someone you know. It might just save the world one child at a time.