…Technically yesterday, because I just looked at the time and it’s 1:30am.
So yeah, I didn’t really feel nervous in the build up to it. Frankly I was looking forward to the openness of being around other students at my uni with anxiety. Although I may have freaked out slightly about 10 minutes before when I wanted to just triple check the lecture theatre it was in on the uni emails and the system was glitching and not giving me access. But after going to The Base and uncomfortably asking the receptionist to double check, I got to the right place and was on time.
I put on a very collected demeanor and walked into the lecture theatre. I noticed a lot of students sitting there looking absolutely on edge. I didn’t see anyone I recognised, which was a bit disapointing. I wrote a name badge and took a questionnaire and sat down on one of the front rows. There was a girl sitting on her own there and I internally debated whether to go by the usual unspoken rule of leaving one seat free between yourself and a stranger but I decided to go against it, thinking in the context it might be kinder just to sit next to her. We didn’t make eye contact though, and she seemed fidgety like everyone else. I became nervous and fidgety too. Another girl came and sat on the row, leaving a space between me and her. I was too nervous to make eye contact initially, but she kept looking at me and I realised (with the corner of my eye)that I recognised her from somewhere but couldn’t think where.
I was quite interested to see if the counselling people running it would go the ice-breaker route with us, seeing as this could make some people anxious (definitely makes my anxiety skyrocket). Sure enough, they did do icebreakers. They must have considered this potential problem though because they made them very simple and uncomplicated. Everyone had a random card like “I’m x and my favourite colour is…” And one by one we introduced ourselves and finished whatever statement was on our card. Mine was gloriously uncomplicated. I still answered it mega awkwardly though like “My name is Charlotte and my favourite food iiis… noodles?” going up in a particularly unnassertive pitch on the word “noodles” (idk if I really have a favourite food ok?).
They continued to carry on methodically with getting people on the rows behind us to introduce and ice-break. It would’ve been kind of awkward to twist my head round, but I had a couple of oh-my-goodness moments when I heard the voices of two people that I know introduce themselves. The first was a girl from both my Lit seminars who I’ve clicked really well with recently and often talk to on the bus home (love those occasional instances when you immediately just click with someone and don’t get awkward/anxious/shy) The second was a girl from a society I’ve been involved in and also on the same course and same year-group as me, who I’ve talked to a couple of times and like but who I figured probably finds my shyness offputting. I didn’t actually end up talking to either of these people today or even making eye contact because they were both sitting some rows behind me but yeah… friends yay.
Me and the two girls sitting to the left and right developed a good rapport over the couple of group tasks we did. One was a Master’s student and the other, the one I recognised, was a second year English Lit student, like me, so then it made sense. They were both so lovely and we got along great. There were a few inevitable awkward silences, but I think given the context we knew it wasn’t personal. And we did have quite a bit of conversation, most of which I hesitantly initiated, being the person sitting in the middle (Initiated being the operative word, I felt good about that, ngl)
First task: Imagine a scenario when you pass someone you know and they don’t say Hi, how do you interpret it? (Answer:”OhmigoshtheyprobablyhatemeI’mmovingtoFinlandnowcyabye”)
Second Task: Think of a recent situation where you felt anxious and fill in on a sheet of paper some boxes with the headings “Situation,” “Thoughts & Images,” “Physical Sensations,” “Emotions,” “Behaviours” and then discuss with the people around you.
There was a great sense of solidarity and I liked it. There’s another session next Wednesday and another one the Wednesday after that. I have homework to do for the next one, including tracking my feelings over every hour of the day for a week on a sheet of paper. The boxes are about size of a lego block per hour so good luck to me because I’m a writer and condensing words is the challenge of my life, especially when we’re on about describing feelings.
Anyway. 2:30 am now so bye.