Something my parents have never let me forget is that I am responsible for my own actions.
If I came home with poor grades, I worked on my study habits. If I was having a fight with a friend, I decided to apologize (or not), and if I honestly believed I’d been served an injustice, I took it up with the wrongdoer myself. My parents, though frustrating at times, have consistently held me accountable.
Throughout my years of experience with school, friends, sports and other interactions, I’ve noticed a peculiar trend that, while absurd to me, seems to be the norm for many others: Parents blaming the teacher for their child’s poor marks or cussing out the coach because their kid didn’t make the team.
These sorts of folks are often referred to as “helicopter parents,” and though I’m sure their intentions are full of love and compassion, it’s time to realize the only thing they’re doing is helping to create an anxious, incompetent human being.
The 1 to 5 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 18 who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders 30 years ago has skyrocketed to 25 percent, according to studies featured in a recent TIME article by psychologist Lawrence Cohen.
Although mental illnesses have become more loosely diagnosed over the years, the number is still nothing short of a shock.
I hate to break it to you smother mothers, but this might just be attributed to the same protective parenting in which you take pride.
While these “loving” parental units may be contributing to the most anxiety-ridden adolescents, our society isn’t exactly helping. For many of us, the thought of catching up with an acquaintance mid-grocery trip or even just sharing a look with a familiar face in the hallway is quite the annoyance. But today, being less than a social butterfly is strangely glorified.
While it’s relieving that preferring a night in with Netflix and your cat doesn’t condemn you to life as a social outcast (in fact, you’re probably shamelessly pleading “crazy cat lady”), for the aforementioned 25 percent, it’s less relaxation and more escapism.
Many of us go about our lives with friends — be it few or many — and regular, everyday social contact without a second thought. The popular TV series, “New Girl,” features actress Zooey Deschanel as a socially awkward, happily incompetent person who nevertheless skates through life adorably.
So why not include “social hermit” in your Twitter bio or compare yourself to a recluse? It’s quirky. It’s cute and you are actually quite fond of your alone time.
Here’s the thing: Social anxiety is, by definition, the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation and depression. Now, I know you’d rather not make awkward eye contact with that girl you “kind of know” from Spanish class, but does such a scenario drive you to depths of depression?
The answer is likely no.
Miss Deschanel and your Tumblr dashboard may portray social anxiety as charming and pleasantly quirky, but in reality, there are people who are sufferably socially anxious and would happily trade their their inability to make small talk with your decision to avoid it — unironically.
Overprotectiveness can lead to helpless human beings and the glorification of such helplessness isn’t doing any good for the issue.
Just because you prefer your cat to your fellow humans doesn’t mean you’re an anti-social special snowflake (cats are always better, anyway).
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