Students with any forms of anxiety often feel as though they are inexperienced swimmers plunged into deep water. Meanwhile, society expects them to swim back up
just as well as people who are experienced swimmers. Not everyone will have their first kiss at 13, college “dorming” at 18, graduation at 22, or even marriage and/or kids before the age of 30. All of these “must-do” milestones will not necessarily happen exactly as planned or expected by our own culture.
There are times when a mini existential crisis appears and it feels as though one is drowning emotionally. Some will do certain stages later in life than others for various reasons, and that’s okay. Everyone’s life stages should come naturally, without one skipping any swimming lessons.
Vicki Atkinson, the Director of the Center for New Students, has years experience working with Harper students. She says, “When new [and returning] students are feeling stressed out, I think we need to create a space at Harper where they can say it and not try to submarine it.” Stress and anxiety can be caused by numerous factors such as personal and environmental, even a combination of both. If, for whatever reason, one does not graduate by the time they are 22, there is nothing wrong with it. Everyone has his or her own inner-struggles.
“When a student shares with me that they’ve got social anxiety or social phobia, or any other anxiety, the first thing I do is thank them for sharing because often it can be interpreted as a student being super introverted or this student isn’t participating the same way,” says Atkinson.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), it is estimated that about 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety, also known as social phobia. It is the second most common anxiety disorder. Social anxiety is most often described as an intense fear of social situations where one fears the possibility of being negatively judged or rejected by others. Some with this disorder may experience increased heart rate, sweating, and even panic attacks when facing an uncomfortable social setting.
Many people must remember that admitting any forms of anxiety are not synonymous with having weak character. It is easier to give up and not try to make a difference. A lot of courage comes with admitting that one may need extra help. There are a number of free counseling services offered at Harper for students. Students may not necessarily have the emotional support they need in their personal lives. Professionals at Harper will try their best to help. Mental health is essential in life, and potentially taking breaks or temporary putting aside certain life plans is okay. At the end, self-actualization is a lifelong process.
Some students may also feel a bit overwhelmed with Harper’s large campus or class sizes. A good way of downsizing a large community is by joining clubs or any organizations where anyone has the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Visit the Center for Student Involvement! Simply having fun is one way of dealing with any forms of stress and/or certain levels of anxiety.