Fear of being left behind

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You know how you have an idea of things like you’ve envisioned them so many times, people keep telling you that it’s going to be this way or that way and you build up this image that you keep in front of your eyes so you don’t lose sight of where you want to be when the going gets rough.

Well, I wouldn’t say college was exactly that, or that it exactly wasn’t. You see that’s a bigger issue than it just being completely different. Cause then all I had to do was take a breath and find a new image. But the trouble was that it was exactly how I imagined it at exactly the worst moments.

I feel like I’m missing out on all the fun when I’m studying and focusing on work. It feels as if the supposedly “best years of my life” are going to pass me by and I won’t have lived at all because I was too busy mapping out the shelves in the library for some assignment or the other.

But then if I don’t study, or take time out to go to concerts and parties and whatnot, I feel like I’m wasting my most formative years doing things that are not going to matter in a couple of weeks. It feels as if I’m wasting the opportunity given to me and that all my peers will excel without me and I will be the only one left behind because I was too busy enjoying the now instead of working hard to secure my future.

And I know that people say that the entire point of college is to learn how to be an adult in the real world, how to live a balanced life; to have fun and still meet deadlines. But somehow it feels like I’m always on the wrong side of that balance. When I feel like I should be focusing on my academics, it seems like everyone is going to the best parties and having the time of their lives, taking road trips and drives and vacations with their friends. But on the flip side, when I feel like I have the time, or that I should take some out to enjoy my life, every time I take a break, it feels like I’m being left behind.

It used to make me feel very isolated and anxious. Like no matter what I did, I was losing, missing out and just being excluded from my peers and their experiences. I know that you Ishtar be thinking “oh you just need to find a balance between the two”, and the worst thing is you right. But it’s incredibly difficult to find that balance, there’s no set formula someone can just hand to you, that you can follow and live a fulfilled life. There’s always the anxious feeling of feeling like the time you have been given is not enough. The choice between enjoying now versus enjoying tomorrow, when there is no guarantee of tomorrow, but there’s a guarantee of failing in the future if you don’t work today, is something I think plagues everyone, not just college students. It’s just that college is the first time you are on your own in the world, there is no one to keep a check on you and it is you who must decide what is right.

I wasn’t planning on it, but on a whim, I decided to go to the campus counsellor, because how could it hurt? And while it’s been difficult for me to take time out to go regularly, there’s this thing that the therapist said I won’t forget anytime soon, “the entire world is too large, you can’t expect to belong to all of it. Instead, make your small world and cherish that instead.” This made me realize that I didn’t have to look at everyone and everything at the same time, I can just carve out my small group of people and activities that make me happy.

And while I will not lie and tell you that it was an overnight change or that I’ve completely overcome my fear of being left out and left behind, it has helped me to make friends who have the same interests and timetables as I do, and look at things not as a whole but in parts that I can understand. Giving up this inane urge to factor in everything and everyone felt liberating. I am starting to understand that its okay to take it easy, its okay to not know if you’re doing what you are supposed to, that life doesn’t have to be one task after the other or one interaction after another, its okay to take it easy, to not do anything.


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