Anxiety and University

Hi Everyone!

It has been such a long time since my last post- but don’t worry, I have more things coming soon!

I wanted to talk a bit about anxiety and university in this post. It is now the time of year when people start to go to university- this may be for the first time, or for the final time. This year, of course, is going to be completely different than all others.. I went to university for the first time way back in 2009- (that weird time, when we didn’t all have laptops and had to go to the library to use a computer, when the world was full of girls with super thin eyebrows, when we took actual cameras out on nights out… what a time!)

So, if you are reading this a fresher this year- some of these things may be a little different, but I hope you still may find what I have to say useful 🙂

First things first, a bit of background info. I went to university at the age of 19, after resitting some of my a-levels (I will talk about this more in a upcoming post). I had had anxiety for a few years already (though at this stage of my life, I wouldn’t have admitted it). I put off packing my bags to uni, as the whole thing made me super nervous. I lost my appetite for 2 weeks before moving to Uni, and the word university was banned in my household temporarily as it would freak me out!

I remember moving into my room on my first day so well. The car was heaving! Me and the sister had a pillow fort to sit in in the back of the car, and there wasn’t a inch of car space spare. I was so nervous. There were so many tears. I remember that just as the family were about to leave, my dad gave me a big hug and said how proud he was of me.

My First ever Uni room circa 2009. Please note the massive Ipod on the radio station…!

Side note: Sitting here writing this, I remember all my emotions so well. Its crazy. I may have to have a break from this as I will cry…

A few years later my Dad told me how that day- he honestly didn’t think I would do it. He wasn’t sure I would get through university- because of all my anxieties.. to be honest, neither did I.

Which brings me to my first point.

You are stronger than your anxiety.

You are stronger than you would even believe. Pushing yourself for something you want, and making that first step is sometimes what you need to do to overcome that anxiety. That is the hardest step. Its a massive step- but you can do it- just try.

You don’t have to follow the crowd

I wasn’t a big party girl, or a big drinker. So the idea of some of the freshers events filled with me with dread. Honestly, I shouldn’t have been so worried- I went to university in Lancaster, which isn’t exactly party central.

Here is the thing. Don’t be worried about saying “No, I don’t feel like it”. I know that in those first few weeks, making friends is a massive thing- and you are scared that by not doing something, you will miss out. But really, one evening off, one event by-passed, that won’t make or break a budding friendship- and if it does… maybe it wasn’t a good friendship. Obviously, this year freshers week is going to be different- and in fact, saying “No” may be even more important for you. if you don’t feel like doing something, because you are not comfortable with it- with *everything* else going on, then you say “No”. Your true friends will respect that.

Some of my best memories are the ones where I ‘made’ myself go out. I would always enjoy myself in the end- sometimes you just have to give yourself that push.

Friends can just be for Uni.

As I mentioned I went to uni a bit later. During this year, a lot of my friends went to university and I lost contact with some of them, so when I went to uni I really wanted to make the best group of friends ever. You hear a lot about people saying the friends they made at uni became their friends for life- and of course this can be true for many. but, it isn’t always the case. In my undergraduate I made some amazing friends, I still love them all even now. However, I haven’t properly spoken to them in years. Our lives went on very different trajectories, and I realised, that whilst I loved my uni friends- they were ‘friends of the moment’- and that’s ok too.

What I am trying to say it, there are different types of friends, and don’t worry if the friends you make aren’t your best ever pals forever and ever. Enjoy the friendships you make, and live in that moment.

It is 100% ok to finish Uni, and have no idea what to do next.

I will go into this a little more in my next post. But I want to say, don’t worry if you finish your course and have no idea where you want to go next. Most people don’t!

When you are doing your courses, go with your heart, branch out and find the things you are interested in- it is the time to find out what you enjoy, and in what areas your interest may lie. I for example, started my degree in biochemistry. I had a few set courses I had to do, but I could also pick a few. I picked courses like Genetics, and Immunology- I loved the sound of them. I ended up dropping genetics as soon as possible (I hated it!) and realising I enjoyed learning about immunology, but not wanting to study this area. Along the way these little things will help to guide you and help make you realise where you may like to go later- but you may well find your degree doesn’t decide your career!

Don’t let bad memories cover the good.

I will take you back to my graduation (my first one…) Similar story to me staring Uni tbh, 2 weeks before graduation I lost my appetite. I developed a massive migraine a few days before graduating cos I was so nervous/excited. the day of the graduation I was super ill- we thought I was going to have to go to the emergency room instead of graduation… somehow I rallied. I got to graduation, I celebrated with all my friends and my family.

I can still remember how awful I felt that day, and how scared I was that I wasn’t going to be able to do the graduation ceremony- but that’s not what I choose to remember. I remember mum laughing at me as I went to go to the bathroom with all my graduation robes on. I remember my sister trying on my hat! I remember standing in the sun, in front of the County College tree with my friends and us all throwing our hats in the air.

Sometimes the negative memories, thoughts and feelings can overwhelm the good, but try to hold on to the good ones and make those the best memories and the fore-front in your brain.

These are just a few of the areas I wanted to add my own thoughts and words to. Please believe me when I say, that even when they don’t show it, most people will have anxiety about starting or finishing university. People often panic the year of graduation about not knowing what to do next- you certainly won’t be alone in these things. I recommend talking to your friends regularly about all these things- you will realise how many others share these feelings.

Its hard to do, but don’t let your anxiety overrule you. I am so glad I got through my anxieties and got to university. Yes, it was hard, but I got through those hard times.

I hope this has helped in some way. 🙂

I hope you all enjoy your time at university, and enjoy whatever the new academic year brings to you 🙂

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