Predeparture Thoughts: Anxiety Strikes Again!

Amaya Aguilar
June 2, 2019

Tomorrow I leave for London to start my study abroad program.

Tomorrow.

“No way. I don’t believe it.”

I remember filing all the paperwork and scheduling all the meetings that were necessary to make this dream happen.

I remember constantly feeling as though there were something else…another paper, another form, another meeting…but there’s not!

“Wait, so this is really happening?”

Even buying my plane ticket to London wasn’t enough to make me believe that this summer, I would be flying across the globe to study abroad.

I think even now I am still in disbelief that it is actually happening and that I leave TOMORROW…HA…

And I think that even when I’m standing in front of Big Ben, spying my little eye on the London eye, or venturing around the halls of the British Museum, I STILL won’t believe it all.

“This is a dream, right?”

Although this is my first time traveling alone, studying and living so far away from home, I feel ready!

“You do?”

“How are you going to...”

“Where are you going to…”

“And what if…”

Meet my anxiety. She likes to pop in at every moment of uncertainty. It’s like she’s a caffeine addict whose go-to order at Starbucks is an “I don’t know” grande frappuccino. To top it off, at least five cups a day is her normal.

Although anxiety and I have had our fair share of encounters this year, every time I have come out of it learning more about myself. After I bought my ticket to London, I felt like my dad was more excited about my study abroad program than I was. He was already planning weekend trips for me, buying book after book about London and England, and watching every Rick Steves video he could to learn all the tips and tricks about traveling in England. Every time he asked me a question about the program, I would evade his questions by giving the excuse that I was too focused on school at that moment to be focusing on the trip yet. It was a legitimate feeling, but also a way to get my anxiety from eagerly jumping at the very thought of me not knowing what the answer was. I learned that taking things one at a time allowed for my mind to calmly process the unknown that was looming over me and my time aboard. Although life doesn’t quite allow you to take things slow sometimes, and some parts of the study abroad process didn’t give me the chance to take things one at a time, I quickly learned how to balance my priorities and manage my time between neverending schoolwork and quickly approaching deadlines. I would set aside “me time” during meal times. Then in the evening, I would complete assignments for class in between evening meetings, and late at night I would sit in the lobby of my dorm and do the paperwork for my study abroad program while taking breaks by talking to fun residents in the dorm.

When school was over and I was back at home, I eagerly researched everything my dad asked and started to solidify the preparations needed to make the most of my time studying abroad. Logistical questions definitely gave the chance for my anxiety to have at it again, but I didn’t let that happen. Instead, I would take in deep breaths, admit that I didn’t have the answer, and quickly search it up before losing my next thought. There were so many tasks and unanswered questions running through my mind that I often would resort to asking my parents to write their questions on sticky notes, leaving many tabs open on my computer of things that I wanted to do, and writing too many to-do lists. But the most rewarding thing was crumpling up that sticky note after the question was answered, closing those tabs after side trips were decided, crossing off all those to-do lists laying around the house. Simple things like that made me feel more confident in the preparation of my trip and allowed myself to be okay with the unknown. The preparation leading up to tomorrow’s flight has given me the life skills I needed to allow my anxiety to be productive instead of destructive.

I’m looking forward to applying the skills I learned during this experience to my time studying abroad. I don’t know what my daily life will look like hour by hour, but I know that I won’t let the unknown fuel my anxiety. Instead of looking at how much free time I have and thinking of what I “should” be doing, I will think about what I can be doing, because I can do it. Even when I’m struggling to see that I can do it, I know that I have a solid support system that's got my back. Thanks to technology, I know that being so far away from home doesn’t have to mean that my support system is gone. Cellphones and a little help from the internet can help me stay connected to friends and family during tough times.

I won’t let my anxiety paralyze me, I won’t go down without a fight.

I am ready.

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Amaya Aguilar

<p>My name is Amaya Marcella Aguilar Diaz and I am a Junior Music Education Major studying at Texas Christian University. I am actively involved on my campus by singing in the University's choral ensembles, Concert Chorale and University Singers, and by singing with the Reformed University Fellowship's music ministry as well as TCU's Opera Studio. I also serve the TCU community by being a second year Resident Assistant in King and Wright Halls.</p><p><br>Growing up, I always loved sharing my story through singing and writing poetry. This gift carried on through my college life. One of my poems, "Life without You", was used in one of TCU Concert Chorale's programs and even inspired a fellow student, Kyle Barker, to write music to her words. I also used this poem as inspiration to find the joys of life by taking videos every day for a whole year, editing them into monthly compilations, and posting them onto my personal facebook account. I wanted to share the joys of my life with friends and family and remind people that despite all the hardships, life is still beautiful and we have the pleasure of living in it!</p><p><br>My hope is that I can continue using my words and my art to touch people's hearts, help the world to see my life through my eyes, and to move others to love one another more.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Summer 1, 2019 Summer 2
Home university:
Texas Christian University
Hometown:
Plano, TX
Major:
Music Education
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