Living With Social Anxiety At University
Everyone says that university years are the best years of your life. I didn't realise i had so much social anxiety until I moved to university. When I was younger i was often scared of speaking in public, and even just making small talk with classmates. I have always been really nervous and shy around other people. I realise now that what I thought were just everyday worries, were in fact symptoms of anxiety.
I was in a new city at university, far away from my parents. I had no one i knew I could speak to. From the moment my parents left me in my room on move-in-day, i began to worry about my decision to ever come here, but I carried on thinking it was just first day nerves and that everyone was equally unnerved. Things were unknowingly to me about to become worse.
My first panic attack at university was on the second day. I felt my throat close up, my mouth became dry and I was beginning to feel increasingly dizzy. Feeling a complete loss of control, i sat on the floor and attempted to control my breathing until I calmed down, which by that time all that was rushing through my mind was i want to go home.
The first year was one of the most difficult of my life. Some days I was worried to leave my room in fear of my housemates judging me for literally everything and not making any effort to befriend them. Did they think I was weird? I didn't like them? Or did they just think I was being rude? Either way, I was making things difficult for myself. I was so scared to talk to people in any situation, especially making small talk. However, being socially awkward was the only thing I was comfortable doing.
Freshers week was very difficult for me. I knew i would be alone because I had made no friends. People would laugh at the girl who went to fresher events by herself. On the other hand, i also imagined people like my housemates judging me for not wanting to go out with them and have fun. I was starting to give up, i felt increasingly depressed and i didn't know what to do. My family from home always tried to support me but the truth was they just didn't understand in the way I needed them to.
Eventually speaking to my family over the phone helped get my feelings out in the open. It was only then that my mum said the way I was feeling at university shouldn't be so extreme and that I could be experiencing symptoms of social anxiety.
Finally, I realised I needed to try and improve my mental health drastically, not only my social skills and anxiety but my overall self-confidence as well. After much persuasion by my family i did speak to my GP about how i was feeling and after months of trying to socialise more and becoming more active, gradually I felt more confident in myself, it was like my anxiety didn't control me anymore.
Three years later and everything is completely different. I'm in my last year of university now and i've made a good group of friends as well as meeting people who also have anxiety and understand what I'm going through. I always make sure to talk to people about the way i'm feeling especially when some days get increasingly difficult. Likewise i always make a point of asking how others are feeling too. I still avoid situations where I feel uncomfortable or i feel my anxiety is getting too much, however, everything is so much better. I never would have imagined 3 years ago that I would still be at university and feelling better than ever.