First off, if you’ve got into University: WELL DONE! That’s a real achievement.
Hopefully, you’re excited by the prospect and have somewhere to stay when you arrive – whether in halls or in a shared house perhaps. But through all the excitement, are you also a teensy bit (or even extremely) anxious? If so, that’s perfectly normal. It’s your brain’s way of alerting you to possible danger but what (about going to University) could possibly be dangerous?
These days, some students feel anxious about leaving home for the first time, not knowing anyone, being in a new city, managing money, loneliness, feeling awkward about making new friends, etc. While these may be things that you’re concerned about, they’re not actually dangerous. Are they? And what about the Virus if it’s still active when you’re reading this article?
If you think about it, with all these situations there is an element of the unknown which causes uncertainty; and humans don’t like uncertainty! So, let’s put you back in control of being certain.
Write down five things that you are worried about. Which ones are you really worried about? Are you worrying about what could possibly go wrong?
Being anxious is a sign that you’re about to push yourself in a new way and it’s perfectly normal. It’s not a mental health issue. In fact, it’s useful. The anxiety you feel at the top of a ladder will make you hyper-careful how you walk down. The anxiety you feel at a cliff edge is what will have you be careful how close to the edge you stand. And the anxiety you feel in a new situation is what’s letting you know you’re about to grow.
The first thing to do is notice HOW you’re thinking about the new situation. Are you focusing on everything that could possibly go wrong? Because when you do that your adrenaline starts to flow and you become anxious. How about focusing instead on making sure it goes OK? No adrenaline – no anxiety.
So, the easiest way to build certainty is to have a plan of action. If you’re anxious about arriving at Uni, make sure you know how to get to the campus, where you’ll check in and the process for getting the key, and find out if there’s a specific time you need to arrive. Then, take a mental walkthrough: Imagine getting to your digs and finding you’re on the list with a room allocated and it’s a really nice room. And let’s imagine that the person in the next room is really friendly. And think about going to your first lecture and finding everybody is either on-line or face to face and you’ve got the kit too. This will show up any areas that still have unanswered questions. It’s better to do this in your head first, like having a dress rehearsal.
If the Virus is still active, the best way not to catch it is having some alcohol wipes or sanitiser, some soap for handwashing and following the guidelines for social distancing in your part of the country including having a mask. What are the guidelines for where you’re going? That means you won’t need to worry about it because you know how to stay safe and you’ve got everything you need.
Do this with every area that has questions to which you need answers and you’ll be much more certain of how you’re going to manage.
The Universities are ready to welcome you and will do their best to look after you. Definitely find out what sources of help are available and how to access them. But, most importantly, get ready to celebrate a great achievement. Because you have already excelled to get there and, a few weeks into the new term, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
And get ready to enjoy the experience!