Attending university is often regarded as stressful, and overwhelming. Despite being dubbed as potentially ‘some of the best years of your life’, my experience has not been a reflection of this notion. From the battle of finding a car park, to participating in icebreakers in a room of strangers, the day of learning can quickly become the day of avoidance.
Avoidance Isn’t the Answer
It’s easier to be absent than walk into a lecture packed with near a hundred prying eyes.
It’s easier to be absent than to be intelligent and engaging in classroom discussion.
It’s easier to be absent than to present in front of a cohort of students and professors.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to fit in with like-minded individuals, or excel amidst a crowd of overachievers, the pressures of university can be so intense that your anxious self could snuff all the personality out of you. If you find yourself entangled in this dilemma, you may take the easy way out – constantly skipping classes and not turning up for presentations. I’ve used every excuse in the book to avoid the unpleasantries of uni.
Before the semester rolls in, I look at the long list of units and I choose only those with no oral assessments, and minimal class interaction.
I’ve always been fearful of a room full of staring eyes, and pressure to uphold “intellectual discussion”. For many of us, social anxiety thrives in the classroom environment – our cheeks go red, and our hearts pace as we try to suppress our shaking voices. And all the while we can’t help but wander “Do they think I’m stupid? Can they see my weakness?”
It’s a trying effort to make friends, and once everyone’s grouped off, it feels like an impossible venture. So we stumble and stagger through the classes, and eventually stop attending altogether. Lectures are recorded, materials are uploaded, and assignments are submitted online, making this loop of avoidance an easy, comfortable yet damaging choice, perpetually feeding our anxiety. Avoiding these scenarios is allowing your anxiety to live and triumph over you.
You Are Not Stupid
Yep that’s right – to manage anxiety in a university setting, it’s imperative that you remind yourself of the brilliance that resides within. Every one of us is in the same self-conscious position, and judgement is rarely ever made. Your intelligence is not being questioned, and you’re not being shamed for your nerves.
The classroom is laid out like an intimidating cage with a tall-standing lectern at the front overseeing a sea of desks and chairs, surrounded by stark, white walls.
The truth is, not even the most pompous academic is looking at you with condescending eyes.
No one is laughing, no one thinks you’re stupid, and no one is thinking you’re a social outcast.
Uni is where all the questions are asked, where the most diverse group of people reside.
Uni is a place of learning, of growth, that’s why they call us students.
The next time you sit amongst a group, your mind ticking, heart racing and anxious to find an opinion that is “smart” enough, remember – you’re all as intelligent as each other.
Take comfort in the fact that you’ve made it through the gates of academia.