As a high achiever in school with a constant anxiety to keep up top grades in school, coming to university meant keeping up the same high level of grades that is expected of me.
Little did I know that university is an entirely different ball game – the support system of teacher and peers, the level of independent work and all purely on your own initiative was vastly different to what I was used to.
However, what shocked me the most my inability to speak out my thoughts in front of a room full of strangers. The anxiety associated with performing well in university is inevitable.
The anxiety associated with performing well in university is inevitable
But it materialises in three fold the effect when you are confronted with the task of “seeming smart” in front of a large group of people (university class rooms tend to be triple the size of your average school classroom).
Personally, as an international student I was extremely reluctant to speak out in the first few weeks of university; inferiority complexes about my accent, my grammatical prowess, and the inability to coherently put forward my ideas in a foreign language held me back for long.
As an international student I was extremely reluctant to speak out
In many courses first year students are mixed with second year and third year students who often seem much more confident in comparison due to their familiarity with the subject.
This leads to them dominating a certain discussion and unconsciously overshadowing the nervous first years. Sometimes it can be something as simple as more extroverted people being able to put forward their ideas and opinions louder and more confidently than quieter students.
Second year and third year students who often seem much more confident in comparison
Many times you feel an intense urge to be part of the conversation but do not consider your ideas worthy enough. Inevitably, such situations can be extremely stressful for those who are anxious to appear in the loop and on top of their academics, while desperately trying to have their voices heard
All I can say at this point is that do not despair. For the most part of my first month at university I struggled to cope with my intense fear of missing out and not appearing as smart as my peers because I was unable to participate in my seminars and lectures.
Many times you feel an intense urge to be part of the conversation but do not consider your ideas worthy enough
But soon enough I realised that most tutors encourage quiet students to speak up at the slightest sign of you wanting to and that other students don’t judge you as harshly as you think they do! Speak out no matter how foolish the ideas sound in your head, you could potentially be churning out concepts that could be a turning point.
In a world that increasingly evaluates the worth of a human being based purely on their academic performance, university can be the defining point of your future.
Speak out no matter how foolish the ideas sound in your head
And because of this very reason, university can be some of the most stressful years of your life. In the end just remember that it doesn’t matter if you fail as long as you don’t give up, you are worth so much more than your degree!