By Ren Westerman
This blog is a couple days late from when I had intended to write it, but for once there is a particular message behind it.
Anxiety seems to be more prevalent in society more than ever, especially for college students. Whether it's oriented around testing, speaking, homework, grades, or just about anything in general, there always tends to be something fogging up a student's mind. To the individual it makes sense to be worried about it. Outsiders looking in might not share that level of understanding. Personally I've been on both sides of the spectrum. I've had my own problems with anxiety as well as hearing others' experiences with anxiety.
That odd intro out of the way, I thought I'd share my philosophy on how to deal with anxiety. This will not only relate to writing; instead it will relate to anxiety in general.
So my philosophy is this.
That might not really mean a whole lot without an explanation, but there's technically more to it.
So the way I see it, you always have two options. Even if you're presented with 200 choices, you'll either accept or reject each choice. Now obviously this isn't a blanketed universal concept because sometimes anxiety isn't a circumstance of whether or not you choose to do something.
Take a test for instance. The odds are you're going to take the test one way or another. One of the things that allows test anxiety to surface is the worry of getting a question wrong or even taking it a step further and possibly failing the test. This causes individuals to panic, lose focus, lose logical reasoning, etcetera. Their overall test performance will suffer as a result of the anxiety.
After working through my own anxiety, I can't believe some of the things that caused me to have anxiety. I was an A+ / B+ student for most of my life, but I still always hated taking tests because even though I knew the material through and through, I was always afraid of the outcome of the test. I'd even lose sleep over it. As you can imagine finals week was a total nightmare. This was at least the case through my sophomore year of high school. Right around the start of my junior year I started to embrace my two word philosophy of "F*** it."
In the situation of taking tests, a lot of my friends whom I've asked that have dealt with test anxiety say the same exact thing. They panic about each and every question on the test. If you have a test of 50 or so questions, that's 50 or so instances of someone panicking over the same test. Referring to what I mentioned earlier, instead of focusing on 50 questions and worrying about each and every one of them, focus on the test as a whole. You're going to take the test and you're going to receive a grade on it. That grade is going to be one of two things. You will either pass or fail. In terms of thinking about the test, it's significantly easier to just take the test with the thought of the end outcome being either a passing or failing grade instead of questioning yourself at each and every question. I'd rather worry about two things as opposed to fifty. Your teacher / professor or what-have-you will collect the test at the end of the testing period whether you've finished the test or not.
Consider this scenario. Maybe you're a writer or someone who produces some sort of creative content. There's often an insecurity felt before sharing your work with others. Let's create the scenario revolving around a small blogger. They're new to the blogging world, and they're afraid if people are going to like what they have to say. A friend of mine had a similar circumstance, and one of our discussions regarding the topic came down to this. There's still only two main options / outcomes of the situation. People are either going to like or dislike your work. If people like your work, they'll support you. If people don't like your work then they don't like your work. Now think of it like this. You have a 50/50 chance (unless you're really going to be picky and say there's going to be people that don't care either way... shhh... :D) of someone liking your work, but you have a 0% chance of getting either audience if you don't put your work out at all in fear of people not liking your work at all.
Essentially you have to look at the big picture here. Anxiety is one of those illogical process that occurs within our minds similar to phobias. Our conscience gets hung up on small little details and kicks in our instinctual behaviors which causes a sort of tunnel vision which prevents us from being able to see the bigger picture.
Honestly, "F*** it" might seem kind of crude or vulgar. If you'd prefer Shia LaBeouf's "Just Do It," it's still the same philosophy. I've gone a little further and broken it down to explain that if you break down the situation to only a couple outcomes instead of overwhelming yourself with a myriad of variables, you'll be able to move forward without nearly as much worry.