Hey there everyone!! Happy mid-week – hopefully you’ve all been having a good one. So as I’ve mentioned before, I am currently self-isolating in England before I start university (I move in on Saturday EEEKK). Now with the gorgeous scenery and extra free time, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get ahead on some blog posts and actually get a decent amount of my own creative writing done.
Sadly for me …. That didn’t happen.
I didn’t know why I was struggling so much to sit down and write because I definitely wasn’t short of ideas, but there was just something getting in my head that was stopping me.
It wasn’t until today that I realised what it was … nerves. I’m starting university next week Monday and moving-in-day is looming and let’s just say I’m more than a little nervous about it all. I don’t think the transition course I did about prepping us for uni life helped. And so that brings me perfectly into my post topic for today – nerves about new beginnings, and how to deal with nerves.
Now I’m still really excited – don’t get me wrong – and I cannot wait to start this new life experience because I’ve been looking forward to this moment for the last year and a half. But now that it’s just around the corner and about to happen, the nerves are starting to settle in, and I am feeling anxious about so many things.
I’m scared that I won’t make any friends and I’ll be one of those geeky loners for my entire degree. I’m worried that I won’t get on with any of my flatmates, or none of them will like me and living together is just going to be awkward until we all move into our own places next year. I’m scared that I’m going to shrink all my clothes or accidentally make all my whites a dreadful shade of fuchsia or magenta. (I can do my own laundry I promise – I didn’t shrink anything during my gap year travels last year, but there is just something about new places with new washing machines that makes me nervous).
I’m stressed about classes – what if they are really tough and I can’t keep up? What if the workload is so intense that I fall behind? What if I don’t understand anything?
I know that’s a lot of what-ifs and that I may be freaking out a bit much, but it’s because starting something this big and new always comes with a fair amount of things to freak out about. I suppose it’s also because I’ve moved to another country to do this, so everything is unfamiliar, and if anything goes wrong, I can’t exactly go home and have dinner with my family, cuddle my cat or cry all over my boyfriend. The best I can do is video call them and sadly crying via skype isn’t as satisfying as sobbing into someone’s shirt while they hug you and comfort you.
I once read somewhere that being nervous just means you care deeply about something, and that couldn’t be more true for me. I really want to have a good university experience. I want to be challenged and have fun doing my degree (I know that I’m going to have to work my ass off but I don’t want to drown). I want to be able to take part in societies and clubs, and most of all, I want to be able to make good friends. Friends that I can be myself around, who get me for me and who I share passions or hobbies with. I’ve struggled a lot with friendships over the years, and I guess I’m hoping that this is where I’ll finally meet my people. I’d give anything to have a strong, happy friendship group where we all can have a great time together without any pressure to do anything other than what we love. And for me, that tends to be the unconventional activities for people my age. For example, drinking is the basis of a lot of social bonding at university, but I’m really not a drinker … I’m just hoping that doesn’t stop me from making friends with people. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
If we each got three magic wishes, I’d definitely use one of them on this (the friendship thing).
Now I’ve always been an anxious person – believe me, I can find a reason to stress about anything. But there are times like this when my anxiety levels peak just too high above my standard daily levels, and it becomes a lot harder to deal with them (hence this obscure ‘writer’s block’ I’m going through). Thankfully, the wonders of Google and lots of trial and error have helped me figure out a few ways to bring those stress surges back down to a manageable level. So, for anyone else who struggles with stress or nerves, here are the steps I use to help get things back under control, and they work 99% of the time (there’s always that 1% where nothing helps except pacing and crying and then eating your body weight in ice cream and chocolate).
Step one: get it all out
If you keep all these stresses inside, it often turns into a ‘hamster on a wheel’ situation where all you do is spin round and round on the same issue and don’t have half a second to get off and breathe. When things are in our head, we can spiral or get trapped in a negative loop, but often when we let things out, they tend to slow down to a manageable speed (even if it’s just by a little bit). Get whatever you’re stressing about out of your head – write a letter, rant to your pet or teddy bear or get your partner to sit down and just listen to you blurt it all out. Sure, it’s not going to solve whatever is causing the stress, but even talking/writing about it can help you process it and get to grips with it easier. I’ve often found writing a letter to myself or just speaking out loud helps me reflect on what I’m stressing about in a different way to just thinking about it and more often than not, it helps me calm down for long enough to get to step two.
Step two: break it down
If a particular event is putting your nerves on edge, breaking things down can often be a lifesaver. Instead of looking at something as a whole, break it down into smaller parts that you can face one at a time. Let me take my trip over to the UK as an example. Step one was getting to the drop off point. Step two was loading everything onto the bus and saying goodbye to my dad and boyfriend. Step three was getting into the airport itself. Step four was getting through check-in. And so on. It may sound silly, but as soon as you start looking at the day/event in its individual parts, the magnitude of it decreases, and it can often become less stressful and easier to manage. A bit like how you break down a big project or daunting task into smaller bits, this is precisely how to do it.
Step three: focus on one thing at a time
This bit is probably the hardest to do because when we’re stressed our mind is all over the place focusing on a hundred different negative things, but it is so important and probably the most helpful step. To get through your nerves, in all those little sections from step two, really focus on just one thing at a time. It does take practice, but when you get it you can almost block everything else out and enter a state of sereneness (is that a word?) and your nerves will start to settle because they are channelled towards this one thing that you have under control at that moment.
Step four: think of the positives
Ahhh the wonders of optimism … Even an optimistic person who never fails to see the good can lose that ability in the height of stress and anxiety. This is because when we’re in the middle of all these nerves, we look at the big picture and can only think of the potential disaster or what if worst-case scenarios. We also often forget to think about the positives because we’re so wrapped up with trying not to cry or pop a blood vessel. But, if you take a step back, the whole thing may not be as bad as how it feels in your head. When you’re that nervous about something, just getting ready and getting into the car is a hugely positive thing.
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SMALL VICTORIES! The small achievements along the way to the huge, daunting task are what really matter, because when those little things add up, suddenly you’ve gotten through it. Also, think back to all the previous stressful situations that you’ve made it through. Sure they were hard, but you came out the other end successful, and you should never forget that.
And so there you have it everyone! I know this post was a bit sombre, and I’m sorry for drenching you all in my nerves and worries, but I hope that if you weren’t too put off by my babbling, that you found something helpful when it comes to managing your nerves or stresses. We all get stressed, and it can take over our lives (believe me I know), but I also know that as consuming as it can feel, there is still a way to get through it and I hope that with whatever nerves you have, you keep pushing through because you are amazing and can do it! Wow, I sound like a Nike ad …
What strategies do you have for dealing with nerves? Do you have any coping mechanisms you’d like to share? Also, do you have any wise words for me before moving in and starting uni? (Any wisdom or advice is much appreciated) xxx
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Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission (the nervous edition) xxx