“Normal” College Situations Aren’t So Normal When You Have Anxiety

How ‘normal’ students vs. anxious students react to different college experiences.

Anxiety is not something to joke about. Anxiety is not something to be casual about.

It’s true, everyone has anxiety every now and then. However, not everyone is actually diagnosed with chronic anxiety. As someone who is, let me tell you what it’s like to live with anxiety in college.

Gets a Bad Test Grade Back:

Normal Human: Oh, man! Didn’t do so well! I’ll talk to the teacher and try to bring it up.

Anxious Human: I’m so stupid. Oh, no, now everything is ruined. Now, I won’t get a good grade in the class. Now, I won’t graduate college. Now, I won’t get a job. I’ll be worthless. Why is the room getting smaller?

Something so minuscule like getting a bad grade can be devastating. It’s important to remember that people with anxiety often take everything more personally and seriously. Something like getting a bad grade would’ve been something that I had been thinking about since I turned in the assignment.

Finds Out About a Paper Due Tomorrow:

Normal Human: Oh, no! Better drink a red bull and head to the library!

Anxious Human: I can’t do this. This will never work. I have no idea where to start. I won’t have enough time. I’m going to fail. I can’t breathe. *Calls Mom*

When something like this is sprung on someone with anxiety, it projects them into an immediate state of panic. Having anxiety means needing a lot of time to process and plan things so that you know what to expect. Not knowing is terrifying.

Friends Making Plans to Go Out:

Normal Human: Yeah, I don’t care. I’ll go wherever the night takes me!

Anxious Human: So we’re going to dinner at 7:00? Why not 8:00? That way we’ll finish eating around 9:30, and then it’ll take us about 15 minutes to get to the bar, and 10 minutes in line, so we can be in the bar before 10:00. Remember, the cover is $5 tonight. How do I know? I called ahead. Yes, I also made our dinner reservation for 8:00. What time are we going home?

Planning is key with anxiety. Key.

Suspicious Chapter Meeting Called:

Normal Human: Hm, weird.

Anxious Human: Oh, no. We did something wrong. What if we get kicked off campus? What if we get yelled at? What if they bring in a real grown up to yell at us? Or maybe we did something good. Maybe we’ll get a surprise date party. Oh, no. I have no boys to ask. Oh, no. I have nothing to wear. Please let us be in trouble.

Again, not knowing is actually painful for someone with anxiety. Physically and mentally. It feels like you can’t breathe or concentrate on anything other than what you’re worrying about.


Normal Human: My friends will take care of it.

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Anxious Human: Everyone is totally going to forget. Should I make my mom call me so I can subtly remind them? Are they planning anything? If they’re actually planning something, I want to know what it is so I know what to wear. But wait, if they actually want to surprise me? That’s cute. But I need to know if they even remember. But I don’t want to blow my cover. Dilemma.

Birthdays in college are weird. In high school, everyone knew when it was your birthday. If your friends made you wear a “Birthday Princess” sash around school, it wasn’t even that weird. But in college, like maybe 10 people are aware of your birthday, and only because you told them about it. It is because of this that I listed this situation at all. Because birthdays are scary.

All in all, anxiety sucks. And it really sucks in college. My friends have to constantly remind me to breathe, to relax, and to calm down (even though the worst thing in the world is being told to calm down). Again, not everyone actually has anxiety. Everyone has anxiety about specific things, maybe. But not everyone suffers from the condition. Keep in mind that people do. Keep in mind that your friends might. Try not to be too hard on them, they’re trying their best, and at least you always know that for sure.

Laney Howard
Laney is a Student at the University of Alabama. She writes about her experiences with anxiety over on her page on The Odyssey Online.

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