Anxiety is a horrible thing. It isn’t just the odd worry about something here or there, it can feel like a dark cloud taking over your mind, your body, your whole life. You can’t do anything without worrying about the impact it will have. Worry, worry worry! That’s all it seems to make you do. University doesn’t make it easier. I don’t mean to say this to scare you, but to say that it is more common that you think and that you don’t have to suffer.
Starting university is a big deal. It is an opportunity to expand your academic skills, kick start your career, all whilst trying to experience new opportunities and meet new people.
Although all these aspects were exciting to me, I found myself becoming scared. I was worried about every little thing. How I would cope on the course? Would I make any friends? Would I be able to achieve the goals I had set myself? Would anyone even like me enough to spend time with me? This was something that I worried about every day.
One of the ways anxiety affected me whilst at university was the worry that I wouldn’t fit in. I thought I was too childish and too immature for people to actually like me. When I was pre-drinking with other people in halls, I was so conscious in what I would say and how I would behave, as I didn’t want to bring attention to myself. This was getting so exhausting that I would just drink to ‘loosen up’ and not have a care in the world. This seemed to work, but when I was sober and walking around campus, I remember just feeling anxious if anyone saw me. I don’t know why was so scared of being seen, but I just was.
Things were also bad when I had to go to lectures. In your course there will be people from different ages and backgrounds. Some of the people were more mature than me and all I kept worrying about was whether I would fit in. It got so bad that I dreaded going to lectures and I wouldn’t talk unless someone spoke to me, just in case I said something stupid or immature. Due to the nature of my course, people were mature in the way they acted. Of course I would be mature when necessary, but the other side of my personality was more carefree. Because I constantly felt I was being judged, I realised that I was compromising my happiness for others and in turn becoming someone that I am not.
Now I look back at this, I realise this was wrong. There is nothing wrong with being mature for your age, just as there is nothing wrong with being a bit childish, just as long as you’re not hurting anyone. All I can say is that the pressure to conform and fit in is real, but at the end of the day all you should care about is your opinion of yourself.
This was a bit of a deep topic to talk about I suppose, but with so many people starting university I thought it might be a relevant topic to talk about. As long as you are not offending or hurting anyone, feel free to be who you want to be. If anxiety is ruining your university experience, don’t let it. It is so easy to access support here at the university and speaking to someone may help you to give your mind a break.