I suppose this post is going to be a sort of review of how everything has changed in the last 12 months. In my very first blog post I wrote about how I was starting the blog with the aim of learning more about myself and my anxiety and with the intention of learning how to cope with everything better.
I have just finished my second year Christmas exams. So much has changed since this time last year! Everything just seems to be slowly falling into place. (Touch wood) I didn’t think anything could beat last year but this year has topped it one hundred times over!
This time last year, sitting my exams I was a nervous wreck, riddled with anxiety and not in a fantastic frame of mind. I was still settling into college although I didn’t realise it and everything was all still a little overwhelming. I remember going into the exam hall at the beginning of my first year Christmas exams shaking. Focusing totally on the fact that I was going to fail my exams (which I didn’t) and on the fact I had never done college exams before and it’s safe to say I was freaking out.
I remember walking into the exam hall which was filled with a couple of hundred other students sitting at desks waiting patiently for their exams to be handed out, and not even being able to bring myself to look up from the floor. I was convinced that everyone was watching me and every move I made. I never even bothered looking for my desk, I would just go straight to an invigilator, tell them my desk number and let them lead the way. I remember sitting down at my desk and feeling so light-headed that at one point I was convinced I was going to faint, but I was too scared to draw any attention to myself, so leaving the exam hall seemed even less of an option. I remember just wishing that I would faint so that I could be taken out of the room and not have to deal with the situation anymore. After a couple, the exams did get less scary but the exam hall remained just as intimidating. That’s one of the things about anxiety, you overthink EVERYTHING.
This year I was allowed the opportunity to sit my exams in a much smaller venue which made all the difference! As I’m sure you can imagine, being on the verge of a panic attack but at the same time desperately fighting the panic with every bone in your body because of being even more panicked about people seeing you in such a state is not an ideal situation. Never mind being in that situation while having to sit an exam. This year’s exams were much easier!
I couldn’t help but notice recently that everything is different from last year. I feel like a totally different person. So much more confident in myself and happy. Completely and totally happy. It’s been a very long time since I was last able to say that. 100% happy… it feels amazing! (I’m smiling as I write this.) 😌
The amount of times recently I have stepped back and just allowed myself to acknowledge all the little goals that I’ve achieved. Things that seem so small and insignificant, but that this time last year I absolutely could not do! Every week I set myself small goals that I must achieve: Talk to a person who previously intimidated me, go for a coffee in a café on my own, start a conversation with at least two strangers. Small things like that, that scare me. With time, the more of these goals I achieve the easier the small things seem to get.
I’ve wanted to dye my hair and put blonde and pink in the ends for about the last 6/7 years, but I’ve always just been too scared to do it for fear it might look stupid. About 3 weeks ago I finally started the process and bleached the ends. It has taken me almost 7 years to muster up the courage to do this but I just decided f@ck it, it’s time!
Yesterday I was standing outside one of the buildings in college waiting for a friend. Some guy canvasing for the student elections came up to me and asked if I wanted a lollipop. I took one and held a decent enough conversation without freaking out too much, or obviously freaking out too much anyway.😂 I asked him questions about his campaign and just simply chatted with him for a few minutes. Not a big deal, right? Last year, every time I saw these students in brightly coloured T-shirts approaching me, I ran the other way. I was so intimidated by them all and would rather have locked myself in a bathroom cubicle than be forced to talk to them.
During the first half especially, of first year I lived my life in tracksuits. Hiding myself away as much as possible. I don’t think I even realised what I was doing at the time. Going on dates seemed like a world away. Something I wouldn’t dream of putting myself through. This is a thing of the past. I now own a total of two pairs of tracksuit bottoms and only on the most hungover of days do they ever see the light of day. As for the world of dating, I am most definitely back in action! (Sorry dad…)
I HAVE BEEN IN TWO PLAYS THIS YEAR!!! Last year, I attempted to join welfare crew and as I’ve written before, it was quite a terrifying ordeal. When asked at the first meeting to introduce myself, say what year I was in and what I was studying I ended up freaking out so much I had to leave. This year I joined the drama society and I haven’t looked back. They were all so welcoming and are all such great people! I have had so much fun with them all and don’t feel even the tiniest bit anxious when I’m with them! That is such a major thing for me! It honestly feels like such an achievement! I am able to hold conversations with these people. I don’t just sit back quietly and listen, I can actually find the words now that I want to say. Also, I’m just going to repeat again, I HAVE BEEN IN TWO PLAYS! (and have loved every minute of each.) Not a chance that I would have put myself out there to be apart of something like a play last year. Putting on the most recent play ‘King Ubu’ was without a doubt one of my best college experiences so far!
Did I mention that I am so, so happy? 😂
Just before Christmas time I went on a night out with my college gals. During the dinner we were chatting about how I have been nicknamed ‘ditcher’, because I never seem to hang out with them anymore. It was only when one of the girls took me aside and explained that being called ‘ditcher’ is actually a twisted compliment. During first year I stuck with these girls like glue. Of course, they are all my best friends and I love them with every bone in my body but I was also just too scared to branch out and make other friends as well as them and be my own person. This year I have made so many new friends and I am so much more confident and now they regularly get mad at me for not being around enough. I think this is the biggest compliment I have ever been given. I love these girls so so much, but I also love that I no longer depend on them.
Lastly, and without a doubt my biggest step forward is my upcoming trip to America. I have been offered a job as a climbing instructor in a New York summer camp for June, July and August. I am officially going on a J1 by myself. I am absolutely terrified but I am going and I am going on my own. This is definitely one of the scariest things I have ever done but I am going to do it! I now feel like I am strong enough and confident enough to be able to make the best of this trip and to have the summer of my life. I am, along with shitting myself, beyond excited! I have no doubt that I will come back a totally different person and that this is sure to be one of the best experiences of my life.
A couple of weeks ago one of my best friends, Ellen, asked me did I think having this blog had made much of a difference to my confidence. I hadn’t really considered this but the more thought I gave the question, the more I realised that it absolutely has!
I have tried to be really honest in all my posts. College life when you’re 5″ nothing has received such a positive response. I have won a Garda youth award for it and recently, I was asked to write a post for Bressie’s charity website ‘A Lust For Life’, which is such an incredible honour!! I really enjoy writing the posts. I like the idea that my posts have reassured others that they are not crazy and that they are most certainly not on their own with their mental health struggles. Through these posts and the messages I have received from others I have also been reassured that I am not on my own. I have learned so much about different coping mechanisms and ways of managing my low moods and spells of chronic anxiety. I am more confident and happy than I have ever been and look forward to the future more and more everyday.
Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me about my blog. It really has meant a lot and I really hope that people who read my blog enjoy hearing about all I have to say.
Kimbo. X 💛✨🌸🌼