We all make mistakes. Life is meant to be lived and learned from trial and error, and that's the scary and confusing part of it all.
Because despite our best efforts, nobody is perfect. I repeat, NO ONE IS MEANT TO BE PERFECT. I find myself having to keep this one simple phrase tucked away in the corners of my brain, especially during this time of year. Every college student knows what I'm talking about: the semester is in full swing, there seems to be at least 2 or 3 exams every week and finals are just around the corner.
I am aware I am not alone in this, but this change of pace and stress can become all too much for someone who has anxiety and is a "chronic" overthinker. And to put the cherry on top of that cake, is also a nursing major.
Not to disregard any other major by saying they aren't equally as hard, but nursing school is VERY STRESSFUL.
You are learning multiple complex diseases and the nursing care associated with that process in specific to different patient populations. You're also expected to read multiple (heavy and eye-numbing) chapters a week, as well as going to clinical once a week and complete assignments from that clinical day. How does anybody expect you to keep your sanity?
It's the fear of not being good enough. It's the fear of failing or not living up to your own expectations. It's constantly overthinking that you're not good enough or that maybe you won't be a good nurse. Those are the thoughts that constantly plague me. Those are the thoughts that ring heavy in my ears and mind when the days are hard, clinical hours are long and exams are to be taken.
Having anxiety is more than just having the typical stressful day.
According to WebMD, "anxiety is characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, unease, or fears strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities." Anxiety can yield many symptoms, both physical and mental; all ranging from a sense of fatigue, migraines, racing thoughts, excessive worrying, and poor concentration. Imagine being so tired but not being able to sleep at times because your brain seems to be crowded with these thoughts and concerns of "what ifs." Despite your best to ignore them, you can't shake them. Imagine your heart racing a million beats per minute and an overwhelming sensation that you feel helpless. It sucks, and for me, nursing school is definitely my anxiety trigger.
You get all this freedom that comes with college, true, but you also get loads and loads of work due every week. Aside from worrying about your classes and your grades, you're also trying to balance a social life. You want to be able to join this club or that club and make loads of friends, but at the same time, you feel like you don't have the time to do it all. At least, that's how I feel. Constantly worried about the process that is building my own future at college has forced me to pick one end of the college experience and completely ignore the other. My anxiety and my schoolwork seem to take a life of its own.
There is this constant fear of my future lingering in the back of my mind.
And it's not like college is where it finally set in. I was actually a very anxious sophomore, junior and senior all throughout high school. Going to college and furthering my education was something I always saw for myself, and I would be the first one in my family to do that.
Setting high expectations for oneself can be good, but it is when those same expectations come back to haunt and remind us when we failed, is when it becomes a twisted mind game because let's be honest, you will fall short from your expectations a few times throughout your life. You just have to learn to accept it and not let those same fears hold you back.
There is nothing in this world that can trouble you more than your own thoughts. For those struggling with anxiety and overthinking, we somehow have this feeling that the more we replay incidents in our head, the more clarity we will get on the subject. We feel like we will remember some detail previously forgotten, which will help us feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately, the opposite happens and we fall deeper into the dark pit of anxiety-written thoughts. We are so focused on the negative that it almost becomes a security blanket. It is almost impossible to think about the positive or believe in happiness because it makes us uneasy, it sometimes gives you the feeling that it's all too good to be true.
It's hard to keep these thoughts under control when there is so much uncertainty.
You could be so close to achieving something you've wanted and have been working towards for some time, and it could all be flipped on you in an instant. It's difficult to accept your self-worth when you doubt your abilities constantly, and this fuels my anxiety even more.
But an important step in dealing with anxiety is acknowledging its presence. Acknowledge the things that trigger your anxiety, and acknowledge that having anxiety does not make you weak or any different. It's also important to talk to someone else about your anxiety. Managing your anxiety is all a process with a lot of moving parts, which involve dealing with your emotions, learning to validate yourself, accepting that some things are out of your control, that you can't predict the future and forgiving yourself for making mistakes. For once and for all, you have to accept it. Here are a few things I've learned to accept (or am still learning to accept):
1. Your self-worth is NOT defined by your GPA
2. One failure does NOT mean you are a failure
3. You are much more than your grades
4. Don't stress. Do your best and forget the rest, don't wait for it to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life
5. Always go in with a positive mentality
6.When thinking about life, remember this: No amount of guilt can solve the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future
We tend to dwell on all the negatives things that have happened rather than on the good things. So naturally, your mind becomes obsessed with the negatives, the judgments, guilt and anxiety produced by thoughts about the future, and so on. But here's the thing: your life isn't always going to be filled with happy things, but it's also not going to be filled with all bad things either. Embrace life's challenges and obstacles.
Overcoming anxiety is not easy or a fast process, but it can be done. If you feed the same amount of energy that you do into your fears and doubts into your dreams and goals, only great things can come out of that. By the grace of God, or whatever higher power you believe in, you WILL make it through to be the thing you wish the most, whether that be a nurse, a lawyer, a teacher or just happy your fear and anxiety should not be allowed to control your life.
There is no sense in overanalyzing your past mistakes; that's in the past, it has happened and it can't hurt you anymore. Just as there is no sense in worrying about the future that hasn't even happened yet to such extent that you fear of it. No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.
Things will be okay in the end. Just breath.
You are not perfect, but that also does not mean you are a failure. If you trip and stumble along your way, you will just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. Forget about the rules of winning or losing. In life, the most important rule is showing up and trying your best, because that's all you have power over. Your story isn't over yet, so don't count yourself out. You are going to come out just fine. Just take a step back and breath.