Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dear Anxiety...

Dear Anxiety...

You suck. You’re everywhere and it doesn’t feel like you’re ever going to leave. You’re the butterflies in my tummy all day, every day and, to be honest with you, I’ve had enough. I’m tired of dealing with you and I’m tired of the confusion that you’re making me live with. I want to be able to live my life not feeling constantly scared of messing up or getting things wrong but you’re making me feel like that’s not an option. I started university in September, with a lot of trepidation and a very great awareness that I’d always said I didn’t want to go. I spent a Gap Year hoping to find something that would jump out at me. Something that would make me feel: ‘this is what I want to do. All day. Everyday.’ And then I could put uni aside, and dive into that. As you know from a couple of my blogs, my Gap Year didn’t quite go to plan and many things threw my world around for a bit. I feel like that took over for a while and maybe the idea of something i knew was coming, something stable…not a car crash, not a sudden hospital visit…something planned, would be good. I thought I knew what was coming and that I would be happy.

I don’t think I’ve gone a day over the past seven weeks without crying…it’s not the people. I’ve met some amazing people and got some lovely friends. It’s just the whole uni thing. The whole education thing. I know that I’m clever. I’ve done the GCSE’s, I’ve crawled through the A-Levels. Those are things I felt I probably should do. So that even if I didn’t go to uni, I’d have them to show people that I have the abilities for whatever career it is I end up wanting to do. I just hated the stress. I didn't like sitting in a classroom listening to someone talk about something that yes, may be interesting and fun to learn about, but knowing that I’m being told it because I need it. For an essay. For an Exam. If I could have just sat there and listened and not have felt the pressure of remembering, perhaps I would have felt differently about education. But I couldn’t…and I don’t.

I chose English Literature because, at A-Level I found it fun. We read a couple of books in a term, would spend weeks talking about the background and picking apart the story and then I could write anything I wanted about what it all meant…I could use my imagination and decide what the author was thinking. I’d write it down, throw in some extra words to buff up the word count, hand it in, get it marked and do another. At A-Level, I found the freedom of it so much fun, I did the revision for the exams as a break, a relaxation method if you like, between learning about rivers and volcanoes…facts, all these facts that I needed to memorize for later.

So when I had to start thinking about what I wanted to do for the next three years, or possibly the rest of my life, beginning the university application process, it seemed English Literature was my best bet. I mean, it’s three years of reading books, right? I love reading. It’s my thing. It’s what I do in my down time. It’s my treat at the end of a stressful day. Well, now it is my stressful day. Now books have become something that I have chosen to spend the next three years pulling apart. Taking the stories I like to enjoy just for their imaginative content, their way of taking me to another world, and what am I doing? I’m trying to think about how all these stories are really about this world and there’s really no escape. That everything we read is philosophical or has some moral message. That’s not fun. For me, that ruins the whole idea of the story. I read a books and stories because for me they are completely unconnected with what is going on in my life. They’re a break from reality. Now I’m letting reality completely take over. The world of imagination is being destroyed before my eyes.

Now, anxiety, you may wonder how you come into all this. Well, right now, as I’m writing this letter, I’ve got butterflies and feel slightly nauseous and it’s all because I’m writing you a letter. I’m trying to take a break from the books and work that are causing my stress to get it out in the open, write it down and get it off my chest. I’m feeling this way because I’m not spending this time planning an essay on a Middle-English lay by Marie de France. A poem I enjoyed reading perfectly well until I realised I had to write an essay on it. It’s a story, a pretty story. A world completely away from this one. One I’d like to enter to relax. But I can’t because I’ve got to read it knowing I must pick apart the language…think about it’s history. I don’t want to do that.

I don’t want anyone to read this and think I’m saying nobody should study English Literature. I’m simply venting how I currently feel. For me reading is for pleasure. Now it has become a chore. This is also where you come in, Anxiety. Since I thought I could probably get myself through three years of English Literature and am now finding myself struggling after only 7 weeks, I’ve begun to suffer  from some serious loss of confidence in myself. I feel as if this is wrong for me. I was never meant to be in a classroom and the last seven weeks have proved me right. Now what do I do? Perhaps I want to do something creative. I’ve always been someone who wants to do things.  I want to draw, doodle, design, write (creatively!), blog! I want to have freedom to put what’s in my head down on paper. I’ve always been happy looking after young children, my nieces and nephews, cousins. I thought maybe teaching was something I could do. I’ve done work experience in schools – one of these experiences left me crying at the end of the two weeks I was so sad to be leaving…surely that’s a sign?

Yet now, when I think about these things, I feel positive for a bit about how right they would be for me, but then you take over and all the things I can think of that would make that job hard or that I wouldn’t be so good at or I wouldn’t enjoy so much, try and persuade me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I shouldn’t do it. I’d have to train, I’d have to learn new skills. You’re telling me I can’t. You’re telling me that everything would be a mistake because it seems to keep happening. I learnt to drive and ended up in a crash, I tried to have a stress free year and I ended up in hospital having my tummy cut open. I thought I’d manage uni……now I’m here. You’re everywhere and you’re trying to tell me that you plan to stay.

So now I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do and it’s driving me mad. I don’t feel able to carry on with this university plan but I don’t know what there is that I would do instead. I know there’s things out there but you keep telling me I shouldn’t try, or that it’s not possible, or that I’ll regret it later. You keep telling me life is hard. The only safe option is to stay put. Since I’m here. But I don’t want to. I don’t feel I can write the essays due in the next few weeks let alone the essays I’ll have to write over the next three years. I don’t feel confident about anything and I want to find a plan. I want to stop, pause life and breathe. How can I know what I want to do while I’m stuck doing something already? I can’t look around, see what there is, take a deep breath, explore my options, while I can see three essays sitting in the corner. I don’t want to do them but what if I have to. What if I don’t find another plan? Then I’m here and I’ve just got to do it.

All I’m saying, anxiety, is that I’m tired. I need a breather. I need to clear my head.

So please, please go away.

That’s all.


  1. Gosh Ellie, How I can empathise with your words. I'll message somehow - FBook or email? Take care.

    'This too will pass'

  2. Gosh Ellie, How I can empathise with your words. I'll message somehow - FBook or email? Take care.

    'This too will pass'

    1. I just saw these! Either - do you have my email? x