A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Last month I finished my thesis. It was the end of an half-year-long worrisome era in my life. I loved my topic, and I do love academic research, but I must admit I have quite a complicated love-hate-relationship to writing papers. I am the kind of person who can really, really stress out about my studies. Well, writing a thesis is probably a stressful time for everyone, given that it’s the peak of your student life and determining your degree and thus possibly the next steps in your life. However, some people seem to find it easier than others. For a large part, things are as stressful as you make and think them to be stressful and I would consider myself, with all modesty, to be extremely good in making things quite stressful. I can worry a lot about a lot, I am awesome in getting paralysed by fear and as a result procrastinate for hours and days, then getting more anxious, which means… well, you get the circle. I can joke about it now, but don’t get me wrong. It’s a serious issue and whoever suffers from it, please try to find help dealing with it. I’m lucky enough that I met many helpful people along the way, and over the years of studying I learned to deal with things like panic attacks better and better. That’s the good news: there’s something you can do against it. You cannot magically get rid of your stress and your anxiety, but you can really learn to deal with in a good way.
But I am drifting off a little bit. So, when I finished my thesis I was asked: What will you start to worry about next? Having been high on the adrenaline and endorphins that come when having climbed a huge mountain (or having written 30.000 words), I thought: Ha, now I will never worry again! I managed this, I’ll manage everything!
– Yes, it did hurt when I came back down to earth. How sweet and innocent was that time when all I had to worry about was whether I used the right word in that sentence, whether I explained that theory well enough, whether my supervisor would like my style of writing, whether those 30.000 words made sense at all, and which font I should use for the title page. I know my pain was real, and of course it was important to worry about these things – an expression of caring about my project – but in retrospective and in comparison to the worry about next month’s rent and whether I will ever find a job, it seems so small. So, yes, as you see, I found other things to worry about quickly enough.
But as I said, I learned a lot (and am still busy doing so) about quieting that monkey-mind of mine, and I think life and things can be so much more beautiful when making them not more stressful than they are anyway. Today, for no reason at all and despite having so many things to do that seduce me to worry about them, I felt especially light and happy. Do you know these kind of days, where life just seems to want you to remember that things are okay, always?! Today was one of those days for me. Random people on the street smiled at me, people I met were so friendly and helpful and funny and wise, and I stumbled over small positive messages wherever I went…
Admittedly, it’s easy on a sunny day like this to be happy and to worry less. But it’s a friendly reminder that often, you can get rid of a lot of stress in your life ‘simply’ (and I know it can be so difficult!) by not worrying about it so much. In a year’s time, my worries from today might seem innocent and small. I might as well focus more on what makes me happy now and enjoy the moment.