In the past six months, I haven’t posted nearly as many blogposts as I meant to. The reason I failed to post consistently, is because the past 10 months have been extremely stressful to me. I made the tough decision to switch from university to college, because I lost all motivation to still make uni work. Instead, I pursued what had been my goal all along anyway: I started a teacher training. It should have been a nice change, and it was, but it was probably also the most anxiety-filled year I have ever lived.
It actually already started from the very first day. Because I switched to college, I knew no one, and I had a really hard time connecting to people. It’s not that I didn’t have friends, on the contrary! I knew a lot of people – but it didn’t really go past “knowing them”. The friends at school remained acquaintances, and I probably haven’t ever felt so alone in my entire life. It was as if everyone around me was part of close-knit friend groups, and I never really belonged to any of them all year. Luckily I had quite a few good friends outside of school whom I could talk to, but still – it was hard on me not to be able to have any meaningful conversations with anyone inside the school walls, and it made being at school very stressful. It got better near the end of the semester, though, after I put in some more effort to actually get to know them better – but still. There it is.
As if the social pressure I put on myself wasn’t enough already, there was also the issue that I changed schools for a reason: uni didn’t work out, and if college wouldn’t work out either I could forget about getting any higher education for a while. Where I live, the government arranged higher education to work with a credit-system, which means that you can only fail so many times. I had to pass, or I would literally just lose my shot at getting a degree in anything. But hey, no pressure. Obviously this resulted in me working as hard as I physically could to get decent grades, because failing was no longer an option. I was so stressed out the first semester I could hardly get any rest at all. The second I took a break I felt guilty, and the only thing on my mind was getting good grades. This only got worse the second semester, because I had passed the first semester successfully and the pressure was on to do just as well once again.
The past 10 days have probably been the worst all year. The first five or six days after my final exam, I hardly slept – all I could think about is that I would get my grades on the 27th of June, and what I would have to go through if I’d have failed one or all of my courses. But what was probably even harder on me, and still is now, is how no one seems to understand the anxiety I have to deal with. Even before I got my grades everyone seemed utterly convinced that I would pass all my exams, and even though they were right this hardly calmed my nerves. If anything, it only raised the expectations people had of me, stressing me out even more. Now that they turned out to be correct I can hardly expect them to be more understanding next semester or the ones after that, for they will probably think that any anxiety I might have is misplaced and will thus not bother to talk with me about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a bad year at all. I met a whole bunch of wonderful people and I got a lot of very exciting opportunities. I discovered that higher education doesn’t have to be an utter drag and I realised that I will be one of the few lucky people who’ll get to do what they love for a living. But I learnt that there’s just always two sides to the medal: I will always have to deal with this mad case of performance anxiety, both socially and academically. As much as I have tried and will keep trying to deal with it, it will always be there. And maybe someone reading this will relate to this, and they’ll know they’re not alone.
- L. Parole