In two weeks I am going to fly to Germany and start my first block abroad. It's really an incredible opportunity and I should be super excited, right? Except even as I'm preparing to leave, there's a spectre hanging over me, reminding me that something terrible is going to happen. I have manageable, but pretty serious anxiety, something I've dealt with pretty much my whole life, but times like this make it extra apparent. Leaving my regular living area (home during the summer or my dorm during the school year) has always been tough for me and all the worse when I am the only one responsible for not losing everything I own and probably getting stranded in Krakow. Of course none of that is going to happen. I'm going to have an amazing time, learn a lot, and come home in one piece. It's just, no matter how many times I tell my brain that, my brain shoots back with panicked screaming and "WHAT IF???"
Anxiety is always there, hovering over your shoulder, the voice in your head that for some reason has decided the world is terrible and nothing will be ok unless you lock yourself in a room and never do anything different ever. So it makes big changes or "adventures" pretty much impossible without some kind of existential dread. I have to remind myself over and over again that I can't let these feelings stop me from taking advantage of the really good parts of life. Challenges to my status quo just feel a lot more difficult. Pretty much once a day I have to remind myself that I can't just drop out of the class and stay here. Sure it might be easier, but why would I do such serious damage to my educational opportunities just because I'm worried I'll forget shampoo?
That's just a basic peek into my brain, something I hope other people will be able to identify with and understand that it's ok to have these worries. One of the worst parts of mental illness is the stigma around it, not being able to talk about it because people will judge you just because they haven't had the same experiences. Well, as someone who assumes the worst on the regular, let me tell you I get it. Things will be ok, I promise. Maybe you're extra careful, maybe you don't go out all the time and decide to nap instead, but don't let the bad thoughts keep you from doing important things. Understand the difference between a genuine concern and your brain forcing you to overthink something that would never actually happen. I'm gonna fly to Eastern Europe, learn a whole bunch, and have a good time. This is an amazing opportunity that I wouldn't normally get if it weren't for Cornell and the Block Plan. The bad thoughts won't go away, but I always have to take the power to overcome them and live my life.