I am currently spending my last week at home before I leave for Toronto, and I have so many mixed emotions when I think about starting this new adventure. I feel sad at the thought of leaving home and that can be overwhelming at times, but I know this is a normal reaction and that this is the beginning of something great. I am also so excited to meet such an incredible group of people known as the Ramily. Connecting with people through Twitter and talking to the other 4 bloggers that are documenting their own Road to Ryerson makes me proud to be part of something so amazing, and even though I haven’t started Ryerson yet I already feel so welcomed. I also registered for Orientation Week and I am so excited to meet many more awesome people there!
Today I wanted to share with you a very personal journey, which I think is a very relevant discussion for anyone that is starting university. 1 in 3 people will suffer from depression, anxiety or panic attacks at one point in their lives. I happen to be part of that statistic. When I was 15 years old I experienced my first anxiety attack as a result of the extreme amounts of pressure I was putting on myself. Throughout this time, I lost all of my self-confidence. I would start shaking uncontrollably, and lost all sense appetite or control. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed sometimes and I became very isolated. When I began to understand what was triggering my anxiety, I realised that I had to stop putting pressure on myself and to embrace new experiences which would help me regain my self-confidence.
A huge aspect of overcoming my fears was travelling. In 2012, I went to Toronto during the summer for the first time in years. Spending the summer in the city with my sister was amazing, and travelling alone for the first time was life-changing because I became more independent. I also went to Rome on a school trip a few months later which was a city I had never been to before and that I found absolutely breathtaking. Beginning new experiences and delving into new adventures can seem so scary at first, but I decided to embrace them instead and it has made all the difference.
By the time I turned 18 years old, I had learned to control my anxiety. I auditioned for the school play and as a result I was cast as one of the lead roles, which helped my confidence greatly and was one of my favourite high school experiences. It was also in 2013 that my hometown, Derry, won the City of Culture which led to even more amazing opportunities. I decided to submit a story into a writing competition. As a result, I was chosen to be one of the 56 students to be published in a short story anthology, which was launched to mark Derry’s status as UK City of Culture 2013. My lifelong dream of becoming a published writer had come true.
I was always an introverted person in high school, but putting myself out there and saying yes to a lot of different opportunities helped me overcome so much. It was in 2013, which was also my final year of high school, that I was elected Deputy Head Girl. To know that my classmates and teachers voted me as a leader was an amazing feeling, and being a representative of the school led to many more incredible experiences such as seeing President Obama in Belfast. Throughout university, I definitely want to continue to say yes to as many opportunities as I can and to embrace new possibilities. It’s not to say I’ll never feel anxious again, because it’s completely normal to feel scared and worried at times. But I control my fears. They no longer control me.
As my final project for my film class in high school, I decided to document this time in my life. I filmed scenery from Toronto, Rome, and my hometown, and wrote a script about my own personal experiences. Since I was directing the film, I cast my friend to be the lead role, playing a character who experiences anxiety attacks but overcomes it by focusing on the people and the places in his life that make him happy. I re-edited and shortened my film for this blog post so that I could share my favourite clips from it. If you’re on the Road to Ryerson, or a road to somewhere completely unexpected and life-changing, remember that you’re never alone. I look forward to sharing with you my move from Ireland to Toronto next week, and in the meantime, let’s stay connected! If you want to discuss with me your own experiences with anxiety or anything else, my social media links are down below. Until next time, I will leave you with this really cool quote I found in a Keds campaign:
“Standing there, at the stage door to the rest of your life…It’s big. It’s exciting, it’s important. Time to dip your toe into the deep end. Try things. Say hi already. Laugh a lot. Mess up. Apologise. Mess up again. Hug people. Take chances. Trust yourself. Lose things. Get over it. Hold your friends close. Gather your tribe and your strength. Gain wisdom and beautiful, extravagant stories. Be brave and you’ll have the time of your life.”
If you need to talk to someone about anxiety or stress, Ryerson has services available for you! Please click here.
See what the other #RoadToRyerson folks are up to!
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