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It's The Thought That Counts

By Sam Ross

*drumroll please*

It’s Saturday night of Independent Learning Week and we’ve just received confirmation – Sam only manages to write blogs when she isn’t preoccupied with studying, work, Populus and many, many other things. Though don’t fret, she’s here now!

Yes, ILW flew by in a barrage of moving house, having no Wi – fi or mobile service (what did we ever do before the Internet?), frantic studying (amidst panic that I wasn’t studying enough), and oh, I bought new shoes and some swanky new shirts. But now Week 7 draws closer, and soon I will return to the Bubble for the run up to Christmas, and everything will be back to normal.

Back to normal. There’s that phrase that comes around every so often, after our worries about whatever it was have ceased. It’s like when I was worrying about coming back to University, and now almost seven weeks later I can vaguely remember the extent of my panic as I threw myself into being busy.

Of course, I still worry – about the turnout at events, about sending emails out for work or being on my phone too much (seriously, I try to limit myself these days to a certain amount of time that I can scroll on Facebook). But the moral of the story here is that we shouldn’t worry so much.

As occurs often I try to work through my worry and do something about it. For instance, when I was worrying about my Physics Higher Exam, I downloaded an app which guided me through my anxieties and seriously calmed me down (see Andrew Johnson, Exam Prep). Or today for example, where I was worrying about a class test, so I took a moment to recite in my head all the content that I could recall.

Before I get started here, I must explain that it is perfectly okay to worry. As with loneliness, it is a natural feeling to have, and has somewhat of a stigma surrounding it. This is why many people don’t go to their tutors for help with an essay or for understanding something – it’s totally normal to be afraid, but you mustn’t let worrying get in the way of something amazing happening (or something helpful at least).

I’ll take a more personal example to elaborate my point here. Since I was wee, I have had a terrible habit of turning a dark, burgundy red when talking to or in front of people. A few times in primary and secondary school, I would just not say anything because I was too afraid of that hot, sweaty feeling. When I was called upon in class it was difficult for me to say confidently what I wanted to say in full because I thought no one was listening to me, and everyone was looking at my red cheeks.

And people pointed it out! Here’s a tip: if you see something about a person that they can’t fix in 5 seconds, then don’t point it out. Sure, they have some food sauce on their face or an eyelash on their face, but gosh, I couldn’t stop myself from turning red. It’s nae as if I wanted to be a beetroot.

I would worry about this insecurity of mine, and it stopped me from feeling confident for a good few years. Yes, it happens less now (phew, and touchwood), but that anxious feeling still creeps up on me every so often.

The fact is, I don’t worry about it so much now because it doesn’t happen so often. It isn’t on my mind, and I’ve grown comfortable with feeling that I don’t have to keep quiet in a tutorial. In part, I think it is because I’m not so scared that it stopped happening so frequently.

It is in so many circumstances the thought of something which overwhelms you with anxiety. Going to University, moving house, knowing nobody at an event, etc. But on the other hand, it is in so many circumstances not worth your worry.

When meeting your boyfriends family for the first or second time, they are not going to be watching how you eat spaghetti bolognaise. And just to clarify, if I see anybody alone at a Populus event, I’ll probably come straight over to offer you a hot chocolate and have a chat.

Baz Luhrmann says it best: “Don’t worry about the future, or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindsides you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.”

I feel like I have used this quotation before, but the theory still applies. Don’t worry too much, guys, and if you ever find yourself worrying about what to do with yourself, come to a Populus event (there is most definitely one on somewhere).

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