Looming Anxious Thoughts – My Senior Project

There are often times where I feel a small pang of anxiety looming over me because of thoughts of what I can’t control. For me, this is mainly the thought of everything that I have yet to do or the future that awaits me beyond college. One of the biggest things on my mind is this big senior project I have going on. It’s called Act 3 (technically it’s Integrating Experience) and for this class, the senior theatre majors must form a company put on an entire children’s show. This includes picking the show, electing people to positions, designing the show’s lights, sound, costumes, sets, and props, casting the show, and putting everything on its feet. I am the production manager for our show, which is called The Princess King. It is a charming tale about defying expectations and stereotypes regarding gender and status.

I have a big job, making sure that everythings stays organized, and it’s the first time I’ve had an opportunity to do this. To make matters worse, the faculty usually expects students to learn from their predecessors so I’ll have to rely on people who don’t even go to school any more to help me with odd questions… Or I’ll have to figure them out for my own. I am interested in production management as another career path but this role is of not the typical production manager so it is unfortunately not teaching me much in terms of what I should expect should I hope to take on more responsibilities in this type of role in a professional setting.  It scares me knowing that I’m not confident in how I should do my job and I worry I’ll let people down. All I want in the world is to help put on a show that we will all be proud of and be a leader that my class can rely on and trust throughout the entire process. I want to be confident and I think to get me there, I must make a list of everything I can expect so that I don’t get overwhelmed when things come up. Making lists is a good way for me to get my anxiety together and I hope that will help with this.

I have an incredible support system within my senior class and outside and I know that I will have help. I just need to trust myself.

Feeling Lost

It’s easy to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, like you’re lost in your own life. There have been times when I look at myself in the mirror and don’t even recognize myself and it’s times like this when I feel so small and scared. It’s times like now where my future is pretty vague and I have no idea where I’m going. This is a major factor that fuels my anxiety. It’s times when I feel like this where I feel the most doubt and fear in life and I don’t really know where to turn next. I wish that I didn’t have these feelings but this is a part of life- to question the next step. If we didn’t feel lost from time to time, we wouldn’t find our next path. Sometimes we need to dig deep in our hearts and minds to discover what we are meant to do next. I often forget to do this and assume that I’m headed toward a dark place. I often struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m scared of what will be on the other side. But that’s the beauty of life. We are never privy to the knowledge of what is yet to come. It is something that we must discover with each passing moment of each day. It is okay to question your next step, but you must trust that you will find your way. It’s like the verse in Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” Don’t let yourself be blind to your future. Embrace it with confidence. This is an easy sentiment to write into a blog post and isn’t as easy to follow through with in life. I need to trust that I will find a way into a bright future despite feeling lost at the moment.

If anyone has any suggestions for bringing yourself out of dark thoughts, I’d love to hear about them.

Anxiety

Anxiety is something that I have been struggling a lot with lately. I used to be super calm when I was younger but as soon as I started the second semester of my sophomore year of college, the feelings and intense emotions began to hit me hard and I began to struggle to recognize who I was. I would constantly repress my feelings out of fear of people thinking I was overreacting to things and I wanted everything to seem like it was okay But deep down, my mind and my thoughts began to eat me alive and I was struggling to cope. I would often lay awake at night rocking back and forth and struggling to breathe and I had no idea why this was happening. I was always crying and sweating and I felt like I was falling apart. Most of the time, there was no obvious trigger to bring these attacks on and that was the scariest part. I never wanted people to think that I wasn’t okay. A huge part of this was because my family constantly told me they never worried about me because I always had it together and I felt I had to live up to those expectations and thus began my spiral into self-pity and fear that slowly took over my life.

Things got worse as I entered my sophomore year. School got harder and I worked with a Director on a show who really tested me and he really added to the psychological damage I was already putting on myself. I felt like I was constantly failing and I took it really hard. I was sad and angry all the time and this director made me believe it was because I was incompetent when in reality, he was the one manipulating me in a very unhealthy way. Despite my friends telling me that I was doing a good job, I found that impossible to believe. Because of this experience, I started taking things more personally and it started to negatively affect my relationships with friends, family, and co-workers and I was ashamed of myself. My mind was attacking itself and I had no idea what to do and because I still felt that I shouldn’t tell anyone, I continued to keep my feelings bottled up.

This then caused problems with my relationship. My boyfriend and I were at a point in our relationship where we always knew if something was wrong with the other and when he would ask me what was wrong, I would lie and say everything was fine. He then got upset because he felt that I was refusing to open up to him and that I wasn’t being honest with him. And he was right. I was so scared of admitting that I wasn’t perfect and bubbly that I wasn’t opening up to the person who has always been my biggest supporter in my mental health journey. Two years later, I have made strides and have been able to speak to him freely about the demons that haunt my psyche. I still struggle to completely open up to him because, let’s face it, I’m a senior in college who is an anxious mess. My junior year was a pretty steady wave of being okay and being an anxious mess but I assumed I would have to live with it. I wanted to take meds for my anxiety but I was too scared to ask for them. I was worried that they would change who I was.

This summer, I went to my doctor and I started to take anti-anxiety meds. I am currently taking a 75mg dose of Zoloft and it has really changed my life. I went from not sleeping because I was scared of waking up to having a more normal routine. I feel happier and I can’t remember the last time I had crippling anxiety. It’s been a little over 6 months and I’m so happy with how this has changed me. I still have anxiety from time to time but that’s because I’m human.

If you struggle with anxiety, find the best way for you to have an outlet. I have found that talking to my boyfriend, journaling, taking long walks, cooking, and knitting have been FANTASTIC ways for me to calm my mind and come back to my preferred reality. These aren’t the solutions for everyone but these are the ones that bring me the most peace of mind. Mental health is not something to be taken lightly. Love yourself and respect your feelings. Find a way to help yourself in a healthy way.

My College Exerience

I want to take some time to talk about my alma mater, and the place that has helped make me the person I am today, DeSales University. I am about to go into the second semester of my senior year and will graduate in May with my bachelors in Theatre Design/Technology with a focus in stage management.

I chose this program because it has a very inclusive curriculum and challenges the students akin to a graduate theatre program at another college/university. It was only one of a few schools of the many I researched that offered a great program for a theatre technician in addition to the a great acting program. For the DT (design/tech) major at DSU, we are given great opportunities to fulfill major positions in our small company, working alongside our professors and faculty putting on quality theatre and really getting the most out of our education. As a stage manager at school, I work on one show a semester as a stage manager and I work on costuming for the other show each semester. I have found a great passion in costuming, which is something I never believed would happen. This program has pushed me to be smarter and think faster and trust that I can do great things. I have a lot to thank this school for. I have made lasting friends, I met the love of my life, and I have made connections that will help me as I grow beyond school. Being a DT has been very challenging but it is the challenges that we all face which make us ready and eager for the “real world”.

Another positive aspect about my school is that the person who started the theatre program also started the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, which is closely affiliated with the theatre program. Working for the festival has helped me learn to be professional in a setting I am already comfortable in and I am so grateful to have this advantage for my career.

Never in my life did I think that I would be working in such a fun and exciting field with so many people who make everything worth it. That being said, things aren’t always wonderful and magical. I have had a lot of ups and downs in college. I’ve struggled with anxiety, pressure to succeed, weight gain, and the reality that a life exists beyond going to school. Lately, it’s been hard for me to accept that I will not be in school this time next year, since I’ve been going to school year after year for 18 years. The thought of graduating and the pressure I put on myself has added to a lot of the anxiety I have had at school. I am coping with it and some days are better than others, but remembering that I’m doing what I love helps me to overcome my fears. College has also taught me a lot about collaboragion with others, as theatre is a major collaborative art. Sometimes I struggle to get along with some of the students and professors at my school. You’re never going to get along with everyone you work with  and that can be hard but it’s something you’ll have to deal with no matter what job you have. It’s a good lesson to learn, especially in a learning environment.

College isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something you’re serious about, make sure you put lots of thought into what you want from your program. That’s what I did and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.