“I’m so stupid,” you tell yourself, “I’ll never get things right. I’m not going to get this done, I don’t have friends, I’m the most useless member in my group.”
Stop. Does this sound familiar to you? For me, it is.
If any or all of these thoughts consume your mind, I promise you that you’re not the only one. Anxiety in college is something that many students struggle with — there’s the pressure to get good grades (or merely just pass the class), to participate in extracurricular activities, to balance your schoolwork and social life, to form your own group of friends (or "squad," as our generation likes to call it) and to just take a breather and do activities that you enjoy. College isn’t easy, and many of us weren’t prepared for the tidal waves that were going to hit us.
Being a perfectionist, I’m meticulous about every assignment and project I must complete. I frequently beat myself up over not excelling in college like I did in high school, not having good time management, not being able to balance schoolwork and a social life and feeling inferior compared to others at school based on grades and appearances.
But something I know I need to work on is having the ability to forgive myself and overcome my insecurities. Loving ourselves is a challenge but there are several ways we can find the inner peace in our souls. Here are some ways you can reduce your anxiety levels and learn to accept yourself in a competitive and highly stressed environment.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Trust me, this only makes things worse. It’s like comparing abstract art to minimalistic art — they’re both too different to compare. As an individual, you are your own unique being. You don’t necessarily have to be like others. Remind yourself about the little things you love about yourself; write one thing down every day. It doesn’t matter if someone’s gorgeous and intelligent because so are you, remember that.
2. Realize that it’s OK to be imperfect.
All of us are. It may sound typical, but it’s true. It’s normal to have goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself for not meeting your high expectations and standards. Let’s say you got a bad grade on one test. Don’t focus on that one grade and don’t let it affect your overall mood. Remind yourself that you did fairly well on your other quizzes and you got into college — everyone else feels as overwhelmed as you and it’s OK to make mistakes. We fall, but we pick ourselves back up again. We live and we learn.
3. Do something that makes you feel relaxed.
I know that it seems impossible to fit anything in your hectic schedule, but take some time to relax. I know, you may have a lot to do and you’re going to beat yourself up for not working on that assignment that’s due next week, but believe me, you CAN take 30 minutes out of your day to take a break and do something you love, be it coloring in coloring books, sketching, blasting out to your favorite songs, writing about your day or writing little blurbs, reading a book on your to-read list or others. It’s important to have some time to yourself where you can just take a breather and do something that isn’t school related.
4. Forgive and accept yourself.
I know it’s easy to put yourself down and difficult to forgive yourself for not trying a little harder in school to make friends or to complete an important assignment. I know self-acceptance isn’t easy at all. In fact, it takes a lifetime to accept yourself. But here’s the thing, be a little less hard on yourself. The journey to self-forgiveness is a hard one, so breathe in. Now, breathe out. Move on from your past mistakes — it’s the past. The past means nothing because you have a whole new future ahead of you to create, and you are more than capable of getting through school and the things life throws at you.
Though it’s hard being a jittery person in college, there are some little things you can do to make your life in college a little less stressful and a little more easygoing. Believe in yourself. You are a wonderful and determined person, and you will make it to the end. You will get there. And remind yourself that every day.
Lead Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska via Unsplash
Editor's note: If you feel like you are suffering from anxiety or depression, please contact a mental health hotline or health services immediately and seek help.