College Anxiety, First Week of College, and Being in the Same Class with My Juniors

20.09.2020 – The first two days had been the worst. I cried before sleeping and after waking up. Those were the days when I found myself having nightmares at 2 in the morning and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Those were the days when I just lied on my bed until sunrise, tempted to send a message to my professors saying that I was not feeling well and couldn’t attend class that day.

But I managed to pull through.

Last year when I talked to my academic advisor how college (and school in general) had made me feel, she gave me a valuable advice. She said that if I felt like I couldn’t handle it, whenever I had the urge to just run away, she said to fight it. Stay for five minutes. Fifteen minutes. Just come to class. Show up. See how bad it would get, or how good. If I couldn’t stay longer, if I could feel myself having difficulty breathing, when my feet and hands got cold, when my head felt spinning, take a deep breath and go outside. Take a moment to recover. Just step outside. Just take a rest. Congratulate yourself for even getting to the classroom. Applaud yourself for even staying in the class for fifteen minutes. You’re doing great. You’ve given your best effort. The most important thing is just to show up and face it.

So that’s what I kept in mind during the first two days of college this semester. I told myself over and over again, “Just open the laptop. Log in. Show to your professor that you’re there and you’re making effort to be there. Afterward, if it gets difficult, if it gets overwhelming, allow yourself to step back and regain your composure.”

It worked wonder. Most of the time I managed to stay until the end of the class. And even if I wasn’t able to, at least I knew I had tried.

Then the first week of college went kind of smoothly. After Wednesday, my schedule got a bit less hectic and the class atmosphere was much less intimidating for me. There were some internet connection and electricity problems on Wednesday and Thursday, but my professors usually were pretty much easy-going about it. Some of us couldn’t afford good internet connection. Some of us had to share their gadget with their siblings. Some of us didn’t have the suitable environment for online learning. But we pulled through, one way or another. My professors kept telling us that as long as we contact them if anything troubling happens, they would understand.

People are actually a lot more understanding than they seem. All you have to do is just make an effort to communicate your needs and problems.

Since I took a semester off last year, I had to re-take many classes this semester. Being in the same class with my juniors felt weird. I am not exactly social and the juniors I know can be counted with two hands. I had worried about this for the longest time. I had been afraid that it would be difficult to get info for class when I’m not in same group chat as them (since we have our own batch’s group chat). I also had been afraid that it would be difficult to find groupmates when it’s required to do so. But so far my predictions hadn’t come true.

I had contacted some of the juniors I know before college even started, telling them that I took the same classes as them and asking them to let me know if there are information regarding the class. They had responded in positive. Many reached out to me a day before class, telling me how to get into group chats, the contact of our professors, and some even kept making sure that I had received the adequate information beforehand. With forming groups for discussions and presentations, it had been easy so far. There was always someone who reached out to me. And when they didn’t, I was the one who reached out. They were always ready to help me. I felt touched and very glad.

I came to realize that most people are kind. They are helpful. You just gotta state what you need, being considerate of their own time and preferences, and make sure that you do your part of the work—in this case, being active in group discussion or at least doing your share of job properly. I know that I’m intimidating and hard to approach most of the time, but people have never described me as unkind. I also have never found myself describing other people as unkind.

Some people can be stubborn. Some personalities don’t match. Some have different way of looking at things. Some have their own agendas and are busy with their life. But even those who can’t give you 100% of their attention will gladly do some small favours to help you. There is a big difference in being dependent on others and seeking help for reasonable causes. Just be kind. Be helpful. Be more understanding. But don’t forget that you are human too. Don’t forget that they are humans too.

And humans are built for compassion and kindness. That’s how happiness is achieved.

Author: Eta Wardana

I love a world made of stories, music, beautiful illustrations, warm drink, fresh fruits, and an ocean of knowledge.

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