A Collegiette's Guide to Living With Anxiety

My heart pounds against my chest. My thoughts are racing, one after another, filling my brain and stifling any rational thought that may be there. I am nearly panicking, and I take ragged breaths trying to calm myself down, only to little avail. Faces swim around me and time slows.

I was not in danger. I was safely seated between four walls, my classmates chattering happily as they discussed their summer break and the upcoming semester. But my body was cemented to the chair beneath me and my lips remained frozen shut, offering nothing but a taut smile at the person next to me.

It felt like the world was crashing down on me—but I was used to it, and I just had to ride it out. After class I’d walk back to my room, trapping myself there, away from the eyes that burned into me. This was my life with anxiety.

College was my opportunity to start over. It was the first page of the next chapter of my life and I had big plans for how I would begin the saga. Nobody there would know me, and I could become whoever I wanted. And with this new freedom, I promised myself that I would ditch the shy girl that I was in high school and blossom into the woman who I knew I could be. But walking into that classroom, I felt the shell around me close. Anxiety still clung to my shoulder, now more than ever. It was going to take more than a little freedom to get rid of it.

Anxiety is a very real issue that many deal with on a daily basis. It becomes a part of who you are, a constant fetter attached to your ankle. Most of us who have anxiety simply learn to live life around it—declining offers, avoiding situations that make us anxious, telling ourselves that everything is okay. Inside of us have a person inside of us who we know we could be, and if the anxiety suddenly vanished, we’d suddenly become this ideal version of ourselves. I knew that there was a strong woman within me who had goals, dreams, and aspirations. But I didn’t know how to let her shine through.

After I struggled for a month or two, lonely and depressed, I decided to seek help for my anxiety. It was a massive step for me, and even though it scared me more than anything in my life, I connected with University Health Services and began to take steps forward. I am so thankful today that I decided to ask for help. And while I am nowhere near close to living without the shadow of anxiety hanging over me, I am able to fight back most days.

College is a tough time for everyone—it is a transition, a time when we carve ourselves a niche that we want to fill. With such a big task placed in our hands, we all will experience stress and anxiety from time to time. But if you feel like it is truly affecting your life—the best advice I could give to you is do not hesitate to seek help. It does not make you weak, and it definitely will not do any harm. The strongest of people lean on others!

Anxiety can feel overbearing and heavy and unmanageable but I believe in you, and with a little fighting, you will soon be growing wings that will allow you to soar.