Would it sound too harsh to start off blogging by saying that it may soon feel that study abroad may be a mistake? Because it sure feels that way. I have no idea what an internship at the University of Sydney's psychology department will look like or what I'll be doing there. I’d like to be honest: I struggle with anxiety, and studying abroad is going to be a challenge that I’m not entirely sure I will be able to handle. So why am I throwing myself halfway across the globe from my family, my friends, and everything I know? I'd love to learn that myself.
The push and pull of pleasing others has always been a weakness. In my blog, I hope to work through my symptoms publically to aid me in finding the tools I need to enjoy life and recover, while simultaneously spreading awareness of how anxiety can affect individuals who study abroad. So, here’s an official heads up: I am perfectly aware that I can be cheesy and that you might not care to read about me. That’s just fine. Writing this out helps me, and can maybe help some other anxious individuals who wish to travel abroad, and that’s what I care about.
It probably seems ridiculous that a significantly anxious person is putting themselves in this situation. The way I see it, I will be preventing more significant stress down the road regarding who I am and how I can find my place in the world. This is something I’ve been working on in college, but college can still be such a bubble when your only real problems are staying up late to study for tests and wondering which dining hall would be less disappointing to have lunch at. How can I expect to make adult decisions in the real world if those are the issues I'm struggling with? This is an anxiety that exists below all my other anxiety- so maybe addressing the main anxiety head on will help with the smaller everyday stuff.
I know there will be forehead smacking moments. I know I will find myself sticking out my wrong hand for a handshake, heading to my internship wearing my sweater inside out, or starting an email “dear colleges” instead of “dear colleagues." These mistakes will replay endlessly as I try to fall asleep the next evening. I know that they don't matter- that they will be forgotten by witnesses hours, maybe even minutes after they happen. But I'll remember. Because it reminds me that I am clumsy, spacey, and forgetful. I then try to remind myself that it does not matter, unsuccessfully attempting to banish the painful thoughts. Oh well.
What can you do but try to come to terms with it? Laugh in its face. Laugh at myself and my attempts to be perfect when perfect doesn't exist. Laugh and move on. That's my goal and what I will be working on in Australia, along with my people skills, self-care, and knowledge of developmental psychology. It's what will help me grow the most out of everything- what will help me find confidence in myself, move beyond the effects of my symptoms, and succeed in my field. Stay tuned to learn about the silly things I do and how I try to laugh and learn.