Time for runner-up #7 for the SweatBlock Social Confidence Essay. This one comes from David, a student at Penn State:
The SweatBlock “Social Confidence” Scholarship is important to me because I have been affected by excessive sweating. It has affected my confidence for a long time. I am now forcing myself to not let my excessive sweating to hold me back from social situations and being myself. I know it may take a while, but I am starting to not let excessive sweating to cause me the social anxiety it had caused before.
I would always be afraid to meet new people because of how sweaty my palms can become. The universal greeting—a handshake—is quite awkward for me because my palms are so clammy. It is something that I am very self-conscious about because of the reactions I would get. No one ever really makes fun of me or calls me out about my sweat-filled handshake, but I can see their negative reaction in their body language afterwards. Excessive sweating of my palms has inhibited me from being an extrovert because I get very anxious about a simple handshake.
Excessive sweating has also made me very anxious about public speaking and being the center of attention. I fear that I would become the laughing stock of the room if people saw my underarm stains or the glare off my sweaty palms. That fear caused even more anxiety on top of the anxiety of public speaking, so I am extremely uncomfortable when giving speeches. I am now much better at public speaking, but it took a lot of time for me to build up enough confidence to do so. Public speaking is difficult for most people in itself, but for us affected by hyperhidrosis, it can be even worse.
The excessive sweating is the worst when I am doing an interview for schools or jobs because I feel like I give the interviewer a bad first impression when they shake my saturated hand. An important interview makes me nervous already; the hyperhidrosis makes me that much more anxious about the situation. Hyperhidrosis made me believe that I could not have a good interview; it made it so I didn’t really believe in myself. I now realize that letting it do that to me was quite foolish of me, but a fifteen year old does not have the same confidence level of an eighteen year old.
I am becoming more and more social as I start to discover myself and build on my confidence, but hyperhidrosis held me back for a very long time. Although excessive sweating is not the only thing to blame, it has contributed much to the social awkwardness that I experienced up until recent. I wish I could go back and tell myself that hyperhidrosis is something that shouldn’t inhibit me; unfortunately, it is not possible. Hopefully those young teens that were in my same position learn that they are not alone. That feeling that I was the only kid who had excessive sweating had a large part in what gave me social anxiety.
I may seem a bit dramatic, but people have to raise some awareness about hyperhidrosis. When other children were teased because of obesity, awareness was raised of the disease obesity and it was diminished as a tool bullies could use against other children. Hyperhidrosis is a weapon that bullies can use against other children, because no one knows that it is a medical problem. If that awareness is raised about hyperhidrosis then it should fall to the wayside, like obesity has, as a tool for bulling.