anxiety

The future freaks me out

I started this blog on 6th August 2013. I’d just finished Sixth Form and was nervously awaiting my A-levels results, desperate to find out whether or not I had made it into university. QFL was a project that was about keeping busy. I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands and far too much to worry about. I needed a distraction. It was therapy.

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This time last week, I handed in my final year dissertation at university. I have one exam left before my sixteen years of education are over. In honesty, I’m not taking this particularly well. I do have some friends that want to leave. Everyone is a bit fed up of the work at this point, myself included, which I wasn’t really expecting, having loved studying up until now. The freedom that comes with earning money will be a huge change, of course, for the better. But I don’t want to leave. I’d redo fifty assignments for another three years. I don’t want to leave people behind. Or maybe I don’t want to get left behind.

I celebrated finishing my dissertation pretty hard. Three big nights out. I woke up at 7am Saturday morning, having gotten in three hours earlier. This wasn’t a normal hangover. I felt sick. But I also had cold sweats and my heart was racing. It was like waking up from a bad dream although I couldn’t calm myself down. In short, I had what I can only describe as a panic attack. In hindsight, it was likely caffeine-induced. My fault. I’d had coffees and jägerbombs and all sorts the night before, to try and perk myself up. So I crashed. Weeks of stress, followed by days of overdoing it, caught up with me. I sat wide awake for an hour and just wallowed, thinking, reflecting, worrying about everything. Talking to a friend about it later, he said something we all need to hear sometimes: It’s okay to worry about the future you know”.

I needed to get where I was Saturday morning because now I can get out. No alcohol for at least a week. A healthier diet. From tomorrow, I get up at a respectable hour. I’m writing a bucket-list of things to do before I leave. Revision starts for that final exam: my last hurdle. I’m going to buy a bunch of books I’ve wanted to read. Start watching films again. I have a few weeks left yet and I’m going to make the most of them, spending time with the people who make leaving so hard.

And, quite frankly, I think I need to start blogging again.

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An open letter to A. Worrier

FOREWORD: If you’re human, an encompassing demographic of my target-audience, you’re worrying about something, probably late at night in bed. Oops. I’ve just reminded you about that.

Here is my written apology:

A letter

Dear A. Worrier,

I am worrying too. At 18 years old I have recently finished my A-levels. Since then an imaginary piece of paper has been stealing my sleep. More specifically, my exam results, and my future thereafter – will I make it to university? Who knows? Well actually, the examiners who will have already marked our scripts, but I probably shouldn’t think about that…

Or maybe I should. It’s how we worry that counts. The healthiest way is out loud. Opening your mouth is a difficult thing to do. Not true. It is letting others peek into your “box of feelings” that is tough. The metaphor begins…

Firstly, there is the delicate matter of pride. You quietly think it’s beneath you, a sign of weakness, to mention that thing that’s bothering you to that person you know that you should tell… To that, I echo the phrase “pride comes before a fall”. And point out that falling on your arse while still trying to cradle a “box of feelings” all by yourself will result in them being spilt anyway.

But maybe it isn’t pride getting in the way. A more serious tendency is at work. Your motivation in keeping to yourself, subconscious or otherwise, might actually be a selfless one. You feel that to talk about your worries, open the box (this is getting tedious), will only offload and burden them on someone else. An admirable concern – but a flawed one, with consequences.

Keep the box closed and it will pile up into boxes of worry. And I am already regretting this metaphor so we don’t want that. Next thing, your friends and family will notice that you are troubled and suffering. When they do, the unwanted attention begins.  And another side-effect of all this one-person box juggling is that you end up making others feel untrusted, for not confiding in them.

“Where am I going with this?” you ask. “What was my point?” I ask.

Open up your feelings – I mean that box – take a few things out, and it will get lighter.

Yours sincerely,

I. Worry-Too.

Ps. it’s a double-barrelled surname.

Open box