This must be very frustrating indeed. It must feel like you are operating on a different speed than those around you. If only there were a button to push that would either speed you up or slow them down! From what you said, I don’t think the problem is rooted in anxiety. Rather, it sounds to me like you may have a processing disorder. In your case the problem is processing speed. You are clearly intelligent. Given time, you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. But you struggle to produce at the rate that others generally expect in verbal interactions.
I suggest that you obtain an evaluation by a learning disabilities specialist to determine if processing speed is the problem. If it is, there are workarounds that you can learn to help you manage situations like interviews. In school, you would be entitled to what’s called “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you had documentation of your disability, the professor would have had to work with you to find a way for you to get those participation points, perhaps by coming to class with a prepared statement, for example.
Learning disabilities are probably more common than you think. By learning how to manage yourself and by finding the right kinds of supports, you can reach your full potential. Millions of people do.
Please follow through and get that assessment. I’d hate to have you miss out on other interesting courses or potential jobs when learning some new tools could help you be successful.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on June 4, 2010.