Mental Health A-Z: Q is for Questions

What will it be like? Who will I know? Will I be okay? Will I be happy?

So. Many. Questions. So many uncertainties…

One thing I have come to realise is that life is full of the unknown. At the start of every day, you will not know every minute detail of what will occur during the next 24 hours. This may scare some of us, and excite others, or maybe a bit of both. For the worriers and over-thinkers out there, the unknown can be fairly daunting.  You may feel an incessant need to plan exactly what you are going to do with your time, to get everything done, but mainly to give yourself the peace of mind. Before sleep, questions may circle around your head, whether that is the simple worry of what is left in your cupboard to eat tomorrow for breakfast, or larger questions, such as ‘how on earth am I going to find a job to support myself after university?’ However big or small, these uncertainties can often cause overwhelming worry, which can manifest itself into exhausting anxiety.

Starting university is a time loaded with questions. Questions that can be answered with a quick google or phone call, questions you won’t know the answers to until you arrive, and also questions that you still, two terms or two years down, won’t know the answer to. Of course before setting foot into this new, uncharted territory called university, you are going to wonder and worry. That is only normal. You will marvel over your new adventure, asking ‘Will I like my flatmates?…Will I like my course?’, and you won’t know the answers until you get there.I know I was anxious about many aspects of university life (and I still am), predominantly the idea of moving away from home, my family and all that I had known for 18 years. That scared me. I just blocked it out, and tried not to think about it, because I knew if I did, I probably would have refused to get into the car the day I moved in. But trust me, I am beyond glad that I did. From our school days, we have been bombarded with the question, ‘what are you going to do in the future?’Always being pressed to plan ahead and foresee the next chapter of our lives. This is important, yes. But, sometimes it is just as important to pause and enjoy the present, without the constant stress of what is coming next. It is so easy to just wish for the next thing, wish for time to go quicker. And before you know it, you’ll have been swept away, merely sleep walking through life.

Change. Change often comes hand in hand with anxiety. University as previously talked about, is an example, it conjures up an abundance of questions. But why are we so afraid of change? Change is healthy, isn’t it? Although, it may not feel like it when you spend nights tossing and turning, deliberating whether you have made the right choices, whether you will be happy in your new situation. But a quote I read the other day struck a chord with me: ‘If I told you that you would be in the same place you are now in 10 years, you would not be happy, right?’ And it’s true. Life is about experiencing new adventures, and with that comes change, and questions. You just have to learn how to cope with these uncertainties.

Something important to remember when facing the questions that accompany change, is that if it goes wrong, you will be okay. Things don’t always work out perfectly, it might take a little time, or it might just not be for you, but that is okay. If you think you have chosen the wrong degree path, that’s okay, ask to change, drop out and start afresh. There are always things you can do, you always have options- you just need to figure them out, as long as it what makes you happy.

I guess what I am trying to say is, don’t let these questions and uncertainties stop you. Easier said than done, I know. Anxiety has the power to disable, and prospects like university, where the unknown just rocketed to a completely new level, can make you feel extremely bewildered and alone. But, take that power, snatch it off the anxiety and lovingly hand it to yourself. Give yourself the power to create the answers to the questions in your life.

Dorrie Townend

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