Invisible Anxiety on Campus

The A-word, we all know it, we have all felt it. The physical fight or flight response of your body; the everlasting inner shaking. Being nervous in a name that is hard to name, always determined to survive.

The anxiety phenomenon nowadays is widespread. When you start talking to a bunch of people about it, at least a few of them will admit they have experienced it already.

Awareness is as rampant but so is the disorder as well.

For a lot of first-year students diving head-first into the university pool, a lot of challenges may arise that can be identified as potential triggers. 

If you're easily triggered and aware of the fact that you suffer from a powerful form of anxiety, please note this is an official trigger warning.

Simply put, anxiety feels like being always in fight or flight mode. This is a natural response the body signals once it is considered to be in danger. Feeling constantly frightened and uneasy is quite daunting and it does hold you back from a lot because you are scared.

For someone who suffers from any form of anxiety, campus life can feel like pure primal survival; always being on the lookout for predators, ready to fight and to survive.

As someone who suffers from various forms of anxiety, campus life was daunting at first.

When I began university last year, I was scared of not finding any friends, failing courses, not performing as well as the other students and not fitting in.

Name it, I probably felt it. 

If I only had one anxiety attack a week, I considered it a "good week.”

Having talked to various people about starting university and how they have felt, I'd say social anxiety is common among most young people. 

Especially factoring in the constant presence of social media, it can seem like everyone is having fun and living their best lives. The art of showing off is more like the art of lying. In most cases, things are a million times different from how they appear online. Online, we polish our image to show off our best selves. However, in our small university dorms, the darkness reveals itself. A lot of people, not only in their first year, do struggle with finding friends as well as the right crowd.

Many students are anxious they might not be accepted the way they are.

Social anxiety is one of the most common forms of the disorder appearing on campus. If you notice someone unintentionally shutting themselves out, try and chat to them. Suggest grabbing a quick cup of coffee if they'd like. Get to know them. Believe me, they will be eternally grateful.

Another common form of anxiety inhabiting campus life revolves around academic success. Most students who make the crucial decision to go to university, experience the transition from being “the highest scoring person in the class” to “a person in the class.”

When someone excels in a particular subject in high school and decides to pursue it at university, they may have failed to realise they would be in a room full of people who are as passionate about the subject as they are. All students are there for a reason and nobody gets accepted because a university feels sorry for them. 

It is normal for feelings of self-doubt and anxiety to arise  but please remember you are there for a reason and you have the full potential and skillset to make it through.

From personal experience, I can wholeheartedly say it is possible to overcome this at some point. After a year of university - a year full of self- doubt and anxiousness -I realised there will always be someone who is better than me but as long as I do my best, I will be alright with that fact. 

Never forget to take care of yourself. If you don't feel like going out, then don't do it. That is fine. Always do what is best for you and your own personal health.

I realise I have only explained two forms in detail but I don't want to talk about something I haven't experienced in the slightest.

Anxiety is a phenomenon that is stronger than any medication. For those of us who suffer from the condition, we not only have to learn to navigate the struggles of campus life but also to live with the anxiety thumping in our chests.

No matter how overwhelmed you may feel by the idea of university or commencing a new chapter of your life, please remember that you are never alone.