I’m with you. I’ve been there.
Now it’s no pandemic but when my university went on strike for 5 months (about exactly 2 years ago today) I won’t lie to you, it got to me. It put a pause on what I was used to as daily life and I was anxious. Also see: a mess.
I had no control over my life for a season. And if you know the kind of person I am, you’d know I found it scary to let things get out of control. My plans? Not? Working? Out? Scary enough I had a nervous breakdown by the end of the year.
I don’t intend for this to be dramatic, but it’s true : people who like being in control of their lives probably don’t handle pandemics well. When you’re someone who wants to know what’s happening at any given moment or who needs to know what’s coming, it’s hard to go through seasons of uncertainty.
So I think I know what this might do to you, and I want to help you prepare for the emotions you might experience the next couple of months.
This is what the stages of anxiety looked like for me 2 years ago:
Stage 1 – laugh because I get time off and will try to make the best out of it
Stage 2 – realize this time off is taking longer than I expected. Should I get a job? Do I keep waiting for school to come back?
Stage 3 – classes/that internship you need for graduation gets cancelled
Stage 4 – stress level doubles. When is this going to pass? When will life go back to normal? (Aka normal being: a structured lifestyle where the next steps are clear)
Stage 5 – omg I’m never going to graduate, I won’t get a job, I’ll stay at my parents house forever, what am I even doing any of this for???
Stage 6 – will this depression last forever?
I know you’re unsure today how you might finish your semester successfully. Or if your internship will even take place over the summer. Heck, I’m there with you because I’m not finished my degree yet either.
I know your anxiety is through the roof.
Especially if you’re away from home.
I know the news isn’t making things better. Facebook, neither (does it ever?)
I know you’re hoping to grasp onto anything certain. And you’re afraid of not only the future, but literally everything else happening around you right now.
I’m with you.
Your feelings of frustration, fear, anxiety, are all valid. Don’t let anybody make you feel like they’re not.
You might develop some interesting coping mechanisms… like convincing yourself God wants you to take this time to date instead. Or to use this time to plan another trip.
But I must remind you of a reality that may make you uncomfortable for a second: life is never certain.
You weren’t guaranteed to finish your degree. Who said you were even going to get through your first year?
Life isn’t certain. For anybody. Not for kids. Not for you. Not for “adults.” So I gotta tell you: if you’re not comfortable being uncomfortable, life will be a lot more stressful for you.
This is coming from someone who tries to plan out every hour of every day.
Your identity as a student does not define you. It never did. I’m sorry society or your parents, or even you convinced you that being a student is who you are.
You are you because you are kind.
You are you because you seek out the best in others.
You are you because you make people laugh.
Nothing outside of you defines you.
So remember that when your mind tricks you into believing there is nothing to hold onto right now while the world is in chaos.
You have everything inside you to feel grounded – you need only to tap into it.
And you will look back a year from now the way I did a year after the strike and say, “Wow I needed to learn that lesson the hard way.”
The lesson being: nothing is certain; that you must take life one day at a time while working towards being the best version of yourself.
I’m really tempted to believe God has the world in isolation right now so we can reflect on what we’re all hustling for. So we can stop and think: What is life? Who am I even?
Take a moment to discover who you are away from being a student. I hate to break it to you but it’ll be necessary anyway once you finish school and try your luck at “adulting”.
Don’t cope by going into your Masters. Or maybe do if it helps you do the dirty work of grounding. Of discovering yourself deeply. And of standing on your own two feet.
In the meantime, try something new. Pick up a hobby. Paint something for your neighbour. Make cookies. Read the books you’ve been wanting to read. Practice a skill. Help your family. Take more walks with your dog. Ask hard questions. Look for answers. Call your grandma. Challenge your whole belief system. Check in on a friend. Make music. Figure out what really makes you.
And, I’m with you.
Please remember that you are not alone during this season.
Message me if you need to talk ❤️
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7