I thought I would like college more than I do. I worked really hard in high school to get into a good school, but now that I’m here, I only feel more pressure. I want to get good grades so that I can get a good job, so I worry a lot about that. And I knew everyone in my high school, but I feel like I don’t know anybody here. When I try to talk to people, I feel really nervous and get upset. I feel like I’m worrying all of the time, and I’m having trouble sleeping. I’m eating less and freaking out all the time and I just don’t feel like myself. How can I make my college experience more like what it’s supposed to be?
Going to college is a thrilling thing, but it can also be a scary one. Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done to make things a little easier. But it’s also important to note that not every fear or anxiety can be overcome by changes in behavior. Sometimes, it’s just as important to think about how to change the way you think. And that usually means getting support from a professional, such as a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard in school, of course, and there are ways that you can try to reduce your stress. Experts suggest taking time for yourself by designating (and enforcing) time off from your school-related duties. You could also speak to your professors about your fears and seek their feedback on how to best maintain your high performance.
And while socializing at school can be tough, keep in mind that you aren’t alone–plenty of others in your class feel as if they, too, don’t yet know as many people as they did in high school. You could make socializing easier by joining an on-campus organization that reflects your interests. In that context, you’ll be able to meet people in smaller groups and can be sure that you have at least one thing in common! If you live in a dorm, experts say you can use that to your advantage, too, by making friends with the neighbors who you live in such close proximity with.
Ultimately, though, your issues may not stem entirely from the reality of your situation. It’s possible that you’re dealing with issues that originate in your mind and in your patterns of thinking. It’s not uncommon for college students to deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues: 11.9% of college students has an anxiety disorder.
You should not be afraid to seek help for these problems. You can turn to a medical professional for more advice, or you can turn to the on-campus resources that your school has for those in your situation. These professionals can help you find the right way to address your issues. Treatments can include a wide variety of things, such as medication, talk therapy, and even emotional support animals.
You may find that addressing the mental side of your issues does more for your happiness and sense of security than any changes in your lifestyle could.
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t” — Thomas Edison