When I came to university I was afraid that I would not be able to live up to the standards of academic work. Like most, I was also afraid that I might not make any friends and at the same time, I had the slight fear of having chosen a course that I wouldn’t like after all. Then once I came here, just only after the first two weeks at university I felt indeed troubled. It wasn’t however, because of the academic work, the disability to make friends or the course. My troubled mind was caused by something that is very familiar to me. Perhaps it can be best described as a shadow. It’s always there- connected to me, yet at a small distance- and it follows me around. It’s anxiety.
Let’s say the sun stands for all that is good and bright. It is dark without the sun, so darkness is the opposite. The sun strengthens a shadow and gives it a distinct form; it stands for control. We can no longer see a shadow when it is dark and for the sake of my example, I’m assuming it merges with a person.
If my shadow is always current it is not a case of if and rather of when. We can’t control when the sun is shining and I can’t entirely control when my anxiety emerges. There are factors that strengthen my anxiety and make me lose control. Chances are I feel more anxious when I’m tired or stressed and my anxiety certainly rises when I’m around a lot of people. It gets worse when I am required to interact and this is especially the case when I need to put my own thoughts or answers forward. Seminars, therefore, are my ‘worst nightmare’ and are in my perception a big part of the course at university. It is a part that I did not anticipate when I first made my list of fears.
Seminars take place with a group of people that is large enough to make me anxious, but small enough to still single me out. This means I have to participate and only the thought of this stresses me out. The reason why anxiety here is such a big issue is that it brings up the following process of thoughts:
#1 If I’m not participating I do not contribute to the group. It makes me feel guilty.
#2 When I’m not participating it’s not like I don’t necessarily know an answer or have an opinion. Actually, because I do have one it is incredibly frustrating to me that I am not putting it forward. I’m disappointed in myself because I do not live up to my own potential.
#3 I’m not living up to what is expected of me in a seminar. Does this mean I am not good enough to be in university?
#4 My lack of participation makes me fear the future. If I can’t do this now, I might not be able to do this later on in life. And are we not required to be able to speak and communicate in today’s society? What is the point if my thoughts remain to be just my thoughts? And does this mean that I’m not living up to the standards of society? Am I not good enough?
University turned out a little bit different than I expected. I didn’t know my biggest struggle would be dealing with my anxiety. I didn’t know my anxiety would be triggered as much as it has been during seminars and I’m not sure how to solve it yet.