To The Senior With Anxiety

To The Senior With Anxiety

If opening the Common Application makes you want to vomit, this is the place for you.

You're the king of the school yet the helpless stranger of your mind. You stand out in the crowd with your shirt with the year “2018” plastered across the chest in gold spray paint and cheap puff paint, but you still feel smaller than the freshman who wore the wrong color on class colors day. Endless thoughts breath down your neck of the next steps you have to take in order to succeed. That SAT and AP prep book sits at your desk, staring at you with the eyes of utter disappointment. “Why didn't you use me for the past 8 months? I would have helped you!”

January rolls around and your best friend just got accepted to her top school AND somehow already has her prom dress bought. Seeing the people around you succeed gives you an unhealthy motivation to better surpass their accomplishments, but when you get home, the thought of leaving your bed makes you want to vomit. Welcome to the world of anxiety. We are more than glad to welcome you with open arms (and sweaty palms).

Hey. My name is Steph, and I am a college freshman studying psychology. The passage above is merely a snip it of how I would describe my senior year of high school: lonely, unwanted, stressed, small, depressed, and very, VERY, anxious. What made you guess? I am diagnosed with not one, but 4 different anxiety disorders. Yet here I am, a student who graduated in the top 30% of her class while battling the seemingly endless fight of debilitating anxiety. This is a letter about how I survived my senior year of high school with this condition and how you can too. So here it is, folks, an open letter to a high school senior with anxiety.

Hey friend,

I hope you're well today. You deserve to be happy.

Senior year is tough, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. You will face stress, adversity, options, and lots and lots of decisions in the next few months. Anxiety doesn't make these matters any better, but there are ways to not let this monster of your mind get the best of you during this process. It will not be easy or fun, but once you walk down that metal ramp come graduation night, all those puzzle pieces will fall into place, and you will feel complete and total euphoria. Here are the 5 most effective tools that helped me beat my anxiety around senior year.

1. Don't let other people influence your college decision.

College is all about YOU. This process is built to set you up for your life and place you on the right career path. It may be easy to pick a school just because your best friend is going there or because your parents are alumni, but if they are pressuring you to go or study something you're not comfortable with, ignore them. Self care is very important come college application time. By letting the thoughts and opinions nervously race around your brain eating each thought like a hungry Pac-man, you're not doing yourself any favors. Don't fear the words “no” or “I'm not comfortable with this idea” tear you down. Be pushy, bossy, and selfish! This is about YOU.

2. Utilize time management skills.

I remember my guidance counselor sitting me down in her office rambling off about all the different ways and times and types of way I could apply to college. The mental notepad in my brain could not write down this very important information fast enough, so as a coping mechanism, I cried. Yep folks, a 17 year old senior in high school who appeared to be good at everything and lead a perfect life had a full on panic attack in her school's guidance office. Mrs. Greenlaw looked at me with the most gentle eyes and comforting smile as I sat there in a puddle of tears and said “manage your time wisely, honey.” That stuck with me. That night, my high functioning anxiety kicked into full gear as I made chart after chart and read review after review about each school I considered applying to. I knew I wanted to apply early action (November 1-January 1 deadlines), so I prioritized a list of things to do to be on time for each school. My days has specific spots built in for college time, and I sure was a frequent flyer to the guidance office. By October 25, I had applied to 6 schools by simply managing my time.

3. Don't overthink your decisions.

Sure, it's important to research campus life and the cost of schools. Don't limit yourself to one or two schools; branch out! Maybe apply to a school you would never think about going to only to realize that you love it after you tour there (that's what happened to me). Also, it's okay to not know what you want to do and/or to change your major! I originally was a Marketing major, then switched to Education, and switched again to Psychology a month and a half before school started. To be honest, I'll probably switch it around some more once I get to school. This is completely normal. You're still young! It's okay to not know still. Plenty of people don't know what they want for a while; it's going to be okay.

4. Take care of yourself.

It's wicked easy to get wrapped up in the college application process and get over the top stressed about it. By taking care of your mind and body, you will feel happier, healthier, and more confident in your choices. Drink lots of water, try to get more than 6 hours of sleep a night, exercise (even if it's walking your dog around the block every other day), and do things that make you happy. My go to coping mechanism would be to get dinner with friends (by that I mean go to IHOP every other night). Try new things that make you happy and hey, if you need a day off, take it. I mean, you're a senior after all, no one is really going to mind.

5. Have fun!

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Join clubs you never thought you would join and take a night off from drafting college essays and go to that football game and drink hot chocolate with all your friends. Bleed the colors of your school and show pride in where you go. Be the school mascot, run for student council, join a play, play a sport you are not good at, do it ALL. This will be the last year with the people you have spent the last 12 years with. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and have the time of your life. When it's all said and done, it's the people that matter the most.

Anxiety sucks. Somedays are worse than others, but with a little optimism, it's more than possible to push through. It stinks you were the one in the line to get chosen to not have enough neurotransmitters in your brain to function like the rest of the world. This is totally treatable and you will push through. You will graduate. You will go to college. You will be happy because you deserve to be happy.

And let me tell you, if I can survive, anyone can. I would do it all over again in the blink of an eye.

Be gentle, be humble, be kind.


Stephanie, an anxiety bound girl who is now happy with her life.

Cover Image Credit: Juan Ramos

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10 Situations You'll Relate To If You Have Social Anxiety As A College Student

If the thought of social interaction makes you cringe, you might relate to one or more of these daily encounters.

Social anxiety sucks. Anxiety in general sucks. I do enjoy, however, knowing that I’m not the only one who cringes when their phone rings and their mom isn’t around to answer it. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from a pity party. I almost like to think of it as a celebration of the togetherness I share with my fellow humans that think public speaking is similar to an ancient Chinese torture device. And, if you happen to find yourself relating to one or two, or maybe even all, of these situations, then welcome to the club my friend ... Welcome, but we probably won’t talk to you.

1. Over-analyzing every, and I mean EVERY, conversation you’ve had that day

Classmate: I love the color of your shirt!

Me: Oh, thank you.

Me to me three hours later: Should I have said thank you or me too?

2. Utilizing your creativity to avoid interactions

One of my best friends and I have developed the optimal strategy to avoid having to take the elevator with other people. If we see a large group of people ahead of us approaching the elevator, we will take the extra time to go check our mail until it looks like the coast is clear and we can stand the full three feet apart on opposite sides of the elevator. Alternatively, you might even take the stairs up to the fifth floor just in case of unavoidable contact.

3. Performing Tasks At Odd Hours to Avoid Human Contact

Best time to go to the gym: Either 6:30 am or 11:00 pm

Best time for lunch: 11:00 am or 2:00 pm

Best time for dinner: 4:30 pm or 7:00 pm

Summation: Avoid people at all costs

4. Knowing the characters of your favorite books better than your classmates

Harry Potter book trivia? Heck yeah.

*Any given individual walks into my chemistry class*

Me to neighbor: Have they always been in our class?

5. Deep investment in pre-conversation rehearsal

Me to Me: Why can’t we go?

Me: Because we haven’t been feeling well.

Me to Me: And where will we be if anyone asks?

Me: In our room resting up and doing homework.

Me to Me: And where will we actually be?

Me: In our room watching Netflix and hoping no one checks in on us.

6. The great fear of the person that you don’t really know, but you sort of know

Do you wave? Do you make eye contact? Probably best if you see them first to make sure they haven’t seen you, and either look very interested in your phone or taken aback by the beauty of the nature in the direction opposite to this person.

7. The struggle when participation is part of your class grade

The only time I’m likely to raise my hand in this class is if I definitely know the answer to the question, and I definitely don’t know the answer to any of the other questions.

8. Trying to work ahead, but not too far ahead

The absence of stress that is having your homework done early is hard to beat. It can only be out-competed by turning in an assignment so early that your professor uses your submission as an example for the class. That, my dear friend, is attention that no one wants or needs.

9. Your phone is more important as a safety net than a method of communication

What if your elevator avoidance strategies aren’t enough? What if you get stuck in a crowded line at Starbucks? Chances are, if I’m on my phone, it’s because I’m using it to avoid communication rather than initiate it.

10. All of your friends are reading this list with you and cringing at the accuracy in their lives as well

Face it, birds of a feather flock together. I like those people who like to go out on Saturday nights and enjoy the company of other people. What I tend to like even more, however, is the warmth of other individuals within close proximity who are deep into their books and currently over-thinking every interaction that happened to them that day as well.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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For Stressful Days

It's all about having a balance.

Whether you are a student with a busy schedule or a not-so-busy schedule, a workaholic or a full-time parent, EVERYONE gets overwhelmed sometimes.

It gets to a point where you’ve had enough and you just need a break. And you know what? That’s completely fine! Everyone deserves to have that one day where they just sit around and do absolutely nothing; you lay around watching your favorite show, eating the junkiest of foods and eliminating any and all worrying thoughts out of your mind, even if it is just for a minute.

As a student, we all feel compelled to take advantage of every single second we get, because they are the “good old days” our parents always tell us about and you just need to make sure you appreciate every single moment you can.

You want to go to every single party you’re invited to, study for all those exams you have the next week, and also have some time for yourself, yet somehow never manage to do so. It’s frustrating to find a balance between all the things one wants to do, but trust me you are not alone.

From a fellow struggler to another, here is my best tip for you: whenever you are focused on one of your priorities and you start to feel stuck, or frustrated, step back, take a breath and do something that you enjoy (just make sure you are doing so in a timely manner); afterwards, you’ll have a clearer mind and a fresh pair of eyes to continue on.

If you have been all day studying and you feel like your mind is fried and you can’t go on, it probably means you shouldn’t. Give yourself a break, breathe it out. It will do you no good, nor will you learn more by exhausting yourself to a point of no return. It isn’t healthy to infatuate yourself on one thing, no matter how big or small; you need to have a balance.

Furthermore, if you focus too much on something, you will look back and realize that, whilst you were doing a very diligent job in this one aspect of your life, you never gave yourself time to enjoy and experience the others.

At the end of the day, there is only so much I can say, but I hope that if you can take anything with you from this writing, it’s this: your life is precious and made up of many wonderful things that all deserve the light of day, but it is up to you to let them all shine.
Cover Image Credit: Static Pexels

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