In the era of social media, we are typically not surprised to see or hear something that is not true but passed around frequently; like when someone says you only utilize ten percent of your brain at once… seriously? This is not true people.

However, other misconceptions may have a more detrimental effect.

I have been suffering from anxiety for a good portion of my life. When I was a little younger, I didn’t understand my emotions or why I was so different from others. I couldn’t socialize the way everyone else did, and I was constantly nervous. My body would always feel tense like when you’re standing outside in cold weather wearing just a sweater, so you try to shrink your body inward as much as possible.

I always tried to play it off like a joke because if I didn’t take it seriously, maybe it wouldn’t be so serious right? Wrong.

When I entered college as a freshman, my anxiety was at an all-time high. After I became a part of Active Minds, I really started to learn about anxiety disorder and the stigma attached to it. I started to understand the way people perceived me, and I started to understand how wrong it was.

People are so quick to say things like “everybody has anxiety.”

Now a comment like this only makes someone feel one hundred times worse. This comment is insinuating that you are not strong enough to cope with everyday life the way others are, and completely ignoring the biological explanation. Between the lines, this comment says “stop whining about your anxiety and deal with it like everyone else.”

But there is a clear difference in which people need to understand and be sensitive towards.

Everybody does not have anxiety. Everybody gets anxious. Big difference.

Right before you present a project to a round table of executives who decide if you get a raise, your hands are shaking and your mouth gets dry. You feel anxious.

You went out on a limb and applied to a job you would love to have, but may not have all the qualifications for, and you’re awaiting a response. You feel anxious.

However, you do not wake up wondering who it is you’re going to be today.

Am I going to be happy? Sad? Irritable?

You do not cry into your pillow at 2 a.m. because you’re feeling worthless for no apparent reason. You do not talk yourself through making conversation with people before the interaction actually begins. You do not collapse into anxiety attacks every other day, where you feel catching your breath will be impossible.

These are a few of the things I deal with from having an anxiety disorder. Not everyone around me will understand, and I do not expect them to. I only ask for people to push pass the ignorance and stigma regarding mental illnesses especially a more common disorder like anxiety.

Just because it is more common and undetectable, does not mean everyone has it.