Tomorrow is a scary day for me. It’s the start of the new academic semester here in Germany (just in time for all the schoolkids to get their holidays -hurmpf!). I’m continuing my studies, and for the first time in many years, am actually having to take it seriously.
I became disillusioned with academia almost as soon as I entered it during my first semester at university in Scotland. There were issues at home, but mainly it just wasn’t challenging enough. I could do no work and still walk out of exams with As, and in one of the courses I completed in my first year my skill level had actually dropped as I hadn’t learned anything new. After that came a raft of mental health problems, and I saw my education as just something I had to get through whilst simultaneously trying to avoid it as much as possible (I still had good marks though!)
It was sad, since I’d spent my teenage years studying hard because I enjoyed it and wanted to have a PhD one day. I genuinely knew I could do it.
Yet I lost that way. Even returning for Honours (weird things in the Scottish academic system) I still found courses uninspiring and felt they were a waste of my time. Add into that a huge amount of anxiety and lost friendships, and every class turned into an extended panic attack. Not fun.
Life got thrown upside down and I took a year out, and then I picked up my studies in Germany. And I had an ego, oh such an ego. But mental health brought me down too, and so at this point I can say I have amassed a huge amount of academic experience, without enjoying it, or even believing in it any longer.
And tomorrow it begins again, but I have to commit properly, more than before. A degree is a springboard to everything else and realistically I know I can’t move further without it.
But it is scary. It’s been a year and a half since I really immersed myself in this world and I’m terrified. All I remember of my previous time at uni was how miserable I was; how this misery compounded my ED and depression; how many relationships were destroyed by everything that was going on around me.
So this is the difficult part of the mental decluttering. Realising that to reach my bigger goals and unlock opportunities I have to do this, and that I -gulp- may even enjoy it. Set my ego (in this sense bolstered by all the experience I already have) aside and sit humbly, acknowledging that I can learn from the tutors and lecturers I have the amazing opportunity to learn from.
It is a great opportunity, and my family have been supportive of the decision I’ve made: to study in a different language, in a different country (and also to study different languages IN that different language). It is far more challenging than the courses I’ve previously taken, and that’s what I wanted in applying for it. So now I have to follow through.
Minimalism has purged my life of the unimportant (well, aside that Pokemon game I was playing this week…) and it is my responsibility to fill it with things which are beneficial. Maybe this won’t feel so beneficial for a while, until I get used to speaking in a foreign tongue again after a month away from it, but it is what I wanted, and it is what will help me most in life.
So it’s time to get rid of the fear, simply because I have no more space for it in my life now, and it’s probably the biggest piece of clutter that has been holding me back.
If you’re suffering from fear in this way too, I’m in no way qualified to give any advice since I’ve been paralysed by anxiety for too many years. But maybe what I’m going to do can help.
Stop, breathe, attack.