I did something brave last night. I talked to my dad about my issues with social and mostly school-related anxiety. That feeling in the pit of your stomach; the hummingbird knocking against your ribcage; the sound of your knees buckling; the tremors, the tears and especially the fear—that’s how I feel before speaking in class, before writing a test, before hosting an event and even after receiving good news. Sometimes its excitement, other times its desperation and most of the time it’s the fear of greatness—of actualizing my potential.
I know so much of my anxiety is rooted in caring too much what others think about me. Why do I care what the others in tutorial think about the pitch of my voice? Why do I care what the professor thinks about my way of reading something? My dad said that anxiety is a physical and mental state you have to get yourself out of with the power of thought. But, that seems impossible when every fibre of your being is preoccupied with adjusting itself to what it thinks others approve of.
But then one day, trying to write yet another political theory paper, a miracle happened. I learned how to convert all my beautifully raw nervous energy into productive energy. I learned that with focus and concentration I can redirect all the energy my body is producing towards something more rewarding than self-hate. Yeah this miracle didn’t fix the problem; but it did help me find a way to cope. I started forcefully harnessing all the nervousness in me to connect with people, to write papers at the speed of light or to ace exams. I basically became my own hype-man by tapping into my very own natural source of unlimited adrenaline. I’d rather be productive than uncontrollably shaking.
It started the first day of school in first year and now I am in fourth year, still anxious and still afraid. But now I see my anxiety as a blessing in disguise like the wind against an eagle. I know that there are other students out there that feel just like me. So I wanted to share with you info on some great resources on campus available to you.
The following are two of my most favourite resources offered by U of T to help students be their personal best:
1) Health and Wellness UT
- “offers U of T students a wide range of services to help support them in achieving their personal and academic best.”
- Visit their main website.
- Check out their online health webinar.
- And their Health and Wellness Guide.
2) Counselling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
- “offers students short-term individual counselling, psychotherapy, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, workshops, and psychiatric medication services.”
- Everything from individual psychotherapy, assault counselling, consultations to events and workshops!
- And guess what – they offer support for many student life issues (of which most defined my first two years in university):
- Difficulties adjusting to university life
- Relationship problems
- Disturbances resulting from abuse and assault
- Prolonged stress
- Disordered eating
- Attention and concentration difficulties
- Problems with sleep
As a final note, I want you to know that no matter how lonely you feel, remember that you are not alone. There are people on campus, in the form of mentors, friends, counsellors, who really do care about you. Feel free to share with me your stories of dealing with anxiety! The power of storytelling and conversation have many healing powers!