There are people everywhere. Some are chatting with one another, others are with their families, but everyone is here for the same reason. We’re all here for the beginning of this next chapter of our lives. Walking into my new dorm, the smell of cleaning product hit me like a wall. How could this sterile looking, empty room ever feel like home to me? Butterflies immediately filled my stomach, a feeling I am all too familiar with. This was not the first time I had felt this way and I knew it would not be the last. The nervousness and anxiousness I felt that very first day has been something I have been facing my entire college career. Anxiety has been something I have dealt with for as long as I can remember, however, once I entered college, the symptoms I thought I was familiar with intensified, and became something I had to learn how to manage all over again.
What does this have to do with me?
After reading this, you may be wondering, what is the purpose of this post? What does your specific experience have to do with me? The answer to this question is kind of simple. Anxiety is something that affects everyone in a different way. By sharing my experiences and how I begin to cope with MY anxiety, maybe I will be able to help someone else. Sometimes you may not know where to begin with helping yourself through difficult times.
Socialization and writing
One aspect of college I thought I was ready for was the amount of new socialization. Going to a brand new place, meeting brand new people was never something I was very good at or comfortable with. It took me a long time to adjust with constantly interacting with new people. When my anxiety acts up due to this, I have always found that taking time to write out how I feel helps. It helps me put my thoughts in order and allows me to decompress and relax. The anxiety of meeting new people has never been something I have been the best at dealing with, but discovering a way to cope has helped immensely.
Another aspect of college I thought I would be ready for was the amount of work there is to do. Beforehand, it always seemed like something people have exaggerated in order to justify complaining. I was not ready for the what seemed like thousands of pages of reading and the mountains of papers to write. Drowning in a sea of assignments was another thing I was not prepared to handle, and another huge thing that worsened my anxiety. In order to somehow manage the seemingly never ending pile of homework, like many other students, I would goto the library. The library was a place that for whatever reason, motivates me like no other place on West Chester’s campus. I’m not sure if it’s the smell of coffee radiating from Starbucks, or the motivational posters that are hung around various walls on the ground floor. For whatever reason, when anxiety about school work crashes into me like a wave, the only thing that helps is going to the library and cranking out everything I need to do.
WhenI first came to West Chester, one of the biggest things I was anxious about was not finding something I was passionate about. I was in the Undecided major, having seemingly no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Being 18-years-old and having to pick my career was something that kept me up countless nights in my first year of college. This was until I found the university’s radio station. As soon as I discovered how passionate and interested I was in radio, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. So now, whenever I’m feeling anxious about my future or what the unknown has in store, I think of my radio show, and being behind the mic in that soundproof station and everything becomes okay.
Finally, sometimes there are days when I am not quite sure what is causing my anxiety, are occurring theme with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These days are some of the most difficult to deal with. These are days where my head and thoughts are clouded with negativity and nervousness. Sometimes these days are completely unbearable. On days like these, one of the only things that even begin to relieve the weight I feel on my chest is listening to music and tuning out the world. It is easy to forget to breathe when you have one thousand thoughts flying at you nonstop, and listening to music helps them slow down, or temporarily pauses them long enough for me to be able to somehow function. Sometimes music is the only thing that can even begin to help.
Find what works for you
Though anxiety affects everyone in a different way, if anxiety is something you struggle with, I encourage you to find your own ways of coping. Even if it’s the smallest of things, if it is something that helps you even just begin to manage your overwhelming feelings and thoughts, do what you need to do to help yourself. The only person that knows EXACTLY how you feel is you, so take the steps you need to in order to help yourself in the best way you can. This could be by trying some of the things I have mentioned that help me, or it could be something else. Whatever it is, as long as it is healthy, and helping you, do it.