Wednesday, December 4, 2013

No matter how excited I am for the holidays (and maybe a little too excited for the holiday sales), every year I feel an undeniable weight on my shoulders when Thanksgiving break ends. This year, as usual, I have more exams than most of my friends, four exams and one paper, to be exact, and I stress over every single one. I didn't suffer from any type of anxiety until I got to college. Now I can't help but stress about graduation, job prospects, and my GPA every time a semester winds down. 

Math has always been my weak spot in school. In 7th grade I was put in a lower level algebra class rather than going on with my classmates, because my grades weren't up to par. In high school I struggled to pass geometry, then algebra 2, then pre-calc. I failed my first college calculus class, only to be allowed into business calculus (somehow) the next semester when I transferred to USC.

I had my first panic attack the morning of my business calculus exam during sophomore year. I woke up at 5:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep. I shook uncontrollably. Luckily I had been staying with my parents that night, so I had my mom there to try to comfort me. Before the exam at 9:00 that morning, I had gotten sick four times, including in the car on the way to the exam. Not a pretty sight. I did pass that class, though, which let me transfer into the business school at USC.

Last fall I had two of my hardest exams, business statistics and managerial accounting, on the same day. I had my worst panic attack to date, and completely blacked out. I had studied so hard, and when the exams came, there was nothing in my head. I couldn't conjure a shred of information. I failed those two classes and had to take two summer classes when I got home from London.

In the past I've taken difficult classes alongside easier, non-math oriented subjects that I really enjoyed and excelled in. This semester all of my classes are math-focused, so I'm feeling the pressure already, a week away from my first final, and two weeks from my hardest. With my May 2014 graduation on the line, I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I'm trying to keep in an "everything will work out" mode. Ultimately, five years from now, it won't matter whether I graduate in May or in August.

Though I've dealt with anxiety for a while, I don't have many tips for other people, as I don't handle it very well myself. I've been learning different breathing techniques at my mom's request, so I'll report after my exams about how that goes.

Does anyone else have anxiety issues?

Stress isn't necessarily a bad thing, I just haven't learned how to handle it properly, so if anyone has useful advice, I'd love to hear it, and I'm sure others would too! I wrote this in the hopes of sharing my experience with others, and to show that anxiety isn't uncommon, and it isn't "weird." Everyone has their stresses, and sometimes they can creep up on you in ways that aren't healthy. For me, in school I get sucked into a time warp where classes, grades, and GPAs are the most important things in life, so I'm counting down the days until I graduate (whenever that may be).


  1. I totally relate to this post. If it makes you feel better, I have 2 finals today that I have yet to start studying for but instead I am sitting in the library reading your blog...

  2. i was the same way. i never struggled with it until i went to school but after i talked with a therapist, i got A TON better! good luck girl you've got it

  3. Oh girl, I have struggled with serious anxiety for years. I actually wrote about it on my blog (I'll leave the link, even though I hate when people do that, because it's really helpful to know what other people have gone through)...I've always been anxious but it became totally overwhelming and serious my last 2 years of college. I went to a therapist for a while and absolutely hated it, so I'm now on an anti-anxiety medication which helps a lot. I still have anxiety attacks and breakdowns but they're a) not nearly as often and b) not nearly as bad.

    Sending you lots of love, good thoughts and hugs! I know how stressful the last year of college can be!


  4. Thank you so much for this post! It's something I've always shied away from speaking about, but anxiety became a real problem for me in my last couple of years at high school. It stopped me from going to school a lot yet I didn't feel like I could talk to anyone (even my parents) about it, because I blamed myself for 'overreacting'. Once I got out of the really insular community of high school it got a lot better, but it's still difficult at times!
    Good luck with your finals Emily - you'll ace them!!
    xo Amy |

  5. I'm in the same boat with Amy on this one, I've actually missed quite a few days this year because of anxiety and panic attacks. I'm sure you'll smash your finals. xx Lots of love.