Naturally, as we get older, we start to develop our own independence and begin to take on the world in a more solo role. For some, this is an incredible opportunity to feel free and do things they felt as though they could never do before. For others, this instills the Fear – yes, the capital ‘F’ is there on purpose. The Fear is what I like to call the gradual realisation that real life is very suddenly approaching and you’re about to lose the proverbial stabilisers of youth’s bicycle. Now, I feel like I should make it clear that not everyone experiences the Fear and this is very much my own outlook on how the impending future is allowing the Fear to creep in. I also feel as though I should say that I am sat writing this at my desk, as a third year university student, instead of doing reading for my dissertation – a perfect example of the Fear at work.
Yes, it feels as though the Fear is ever-present these days and we’re simply doing what we can to keep the looming shadow at bay. Whether it be from university stress or the thought of having roughly two hundred and fifty days until we – I say we, I just like to think I’m not alone in this – can no longer protect ourselves from the Fear by the shield of education, and the overwhelming yet natural cause and effect of life is still very much in our daily view. The Fear works in multiple ways, from stressing to the point of not actually doing what you need to do, or forcing you to anxiously clean both of the bathrooms in your university house – not something you’d do for entertainment, let me tell you. However, there are a few things you can do to help understand the Fear and not let it overwhelm you.
- Take a moment when you feel the Fear take hold and grab a notebook. Write down all of the things you need to do and all of the things you have done. This helps to visualise the tangled maze of thoughts in your head and break things down to a manageable size.
- If the Fear has got you thinking about the future, spend half an hour jotting down all possible thoughts you have, big or small, then maybe do a little research into them. Once you have an idea of areas you can look into, thoughts of the future won’t seem as scary.
- Talk a walk. Nothing says I’m calm and relaxed like talking a deep breath and just being outside for a bit. Not only does it clear your mind, but you get to exert your body on something other than worry.
- If you’ve been working for a while, put the books down and switch your mind to something else. Grab coffee with your friends; go to the cinema; listen to music whilst making dinner; take a bath. They may seem like small everyday activities but if you’re stressed, there’s nothing better than having others to help take your mind off of it.
- And finally, tell the Fear who’s boss. There’s nothing wrong with feeling the Fear – in fact, I feel like it’s normal to be worried or anxious about the future. There’s a lot of uncertainty and many factors play into that. Accept the Fear and that it’s making you feel some kind of way. Acknowledge the Fear, and then show the Fear the door.
Those are my five tips on what to do if the Fear strikes, but of course they won’t be the same for everybody. We have to remember that we are our own people. No two people will ever be or think exactly the same, so we have to do what’s right for us. It’s perfectly normal to feel the Fear sometimes, we just have to remind ourselves not to let the Fear consume us, because we are so much more. Life is full of a million things we are all yet to experience, so let the Fear excite you, let the Fear exhilarate you, but most importantly, don’t let the Fear define you.