‘Overreacting’ again


If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being told I’m overreacting.

As someone who has dealt with a roller coaster of moderate to severe anxiety their whole life, the way I respond to certain situations can be somewhat unpredictable.

For instance, if I get a bad grade, I’m really good at laughing it off and moving on with my day.

If I find out a friend has lied to me, however, I respond with an aggressive punch of emotion.

Anxiety blurs my ability to think rationally and this is when I tend to say things I don’t mean or move into that dark place I’ve tried so hard to get out of.

My anxiety is mainly social.

I get very upset when people I care about do me wrong, if plans change suddenly or if someone backs out of a promise.

With general stresses of life, however, like financial positions or job security, I’m generally pretty optimistic.

In situations like those, I can usually look at the bright side.

This is why I’m so annoyed with the phrase, “you’re overreacting.”

Measuring human reactions is such a wild generalization, that I’m arguing that phrase as actually offensive.

Let me put this in perspective for you.

In my fourth-year English seminar, we’re reading a novel that has a really troubling rape scene.

While I read this, I sympathized with the main character, but since I don’t have any personal experiences with being raped, my reaction to reading this scene can be measured as “normal” by societal standards.

For someone who might have been raped themselves, reading this scene could have caused them to “overreact,” due to past traumas.

Can that really qualify as “overreacting,” though?

Or is it just a different form of reaction?

When you tell someone they’re overreacting, you’re telling them that there is a norm for how someone should react to certain situations and they don’t fit into that norm.

It’s the same as telling someone to calm down.

You’re asking that person to cater their reaction to what you think is fit.

Ultimately, that’s really uncool.

I’m lucky because my family and friends understand why I react strongly to certain social situations.

I don’t ever ask anyone to cater to my anxiety, but just to be open and understanding that sometimes I can respond to situations with high levels of emotion.

The majority of people close to me know that telling me I’m overreacting makes everything worse because this is the last thing an upset person needs — to feel alienated and outside of the norm.

Everyone has that one friend that has been deemed “overly emotional.”

Everyone has that one friend that is like a ticking time bomb; we dance around the conversation in efforts to keep the storm at bay.

Instead of ultimately thinking, “there they go, overreacting again,” try your best to find the root of their responses.

But more than anything, just listen to them.

Telling someone they’re “overreacting” is derailing conversation.

By saying this, you’re making it seem like they’re the problem, when really the problem is your inability to be considerate of multiple positions other than your own.

No, I’m not “overreacting.”

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