Back to school, that is.
I know August just started, but back to school is just around the corner. This means that I will be starting my fourth post-secondary program for the fourth year in a row. I haven’t gotten very far with other program attempts, and I’m really hoping that this program will be The One, as in the program I will graduate from.
This is also the time of year where my anxiety toward school creeps in. I have started having second thoughts as to whether or not this is the right program for me, and wanting to back out of it. I also have the bad habit of heavily comparing myself to others around me, and I mentally count how many years “behind” the majority of my high school peers I am, which makes me feel worse. For example, they are now going into their fourth year of university, and I am only starting my first year of college. I tend to think I am a mind reader and feel like others think I am a joke for changing post-secondary programs each year, and not sticking to one.
A lot of people don’t know the whole story of why I had to, so they wouldn’t understand, but I do have good reasons. The first two attempts at university were beyond my control since I experienced two major depressive episodes, and could no longer attend school. This past year I was attending a bridging program at college that helps prepare you to go back to university. After the second semester, almost half way through the program, I realized that maybe I didn’t want to go back to university, and I could be pursuing a program I really want to do in college instead, which is what I have decided to do.
The funny thing is that I know the solutions to all the problems I mentioned, yet I don’t follow the logical way of thinking about this. When I experience anxiety over questioning the program, I just need to remind myself to give the program a chance and see how it goes, and if I don’t like it, then I can back out of it.
Feeling “behind” is all in my head because of what society has taught me – that people who went through the “academic” stream in high school go to university right after graduating high school. I did do that, but obviously it didn’t go so smoothly. Everyone makes their own path in life and it doesn’t always follow a perfectly linear trajectory; there can be obstacles and bumps in the road. At the end of the day, who really cares when I finish school? Yeah, it’s taking me a little longer, but school will always be there and I can go to university at any time in my life. It’s not mandatory to follow the perfect path in life to your perfect job.
The moral of this whole thing is that I should just do what I want to do, and not focus too much on worrying if it will work out or how I will be judged, or comparing myself to everyone else.
About Elena B.
Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.