So, as anyone who knows me well knows, I'm a very nervous person. I'm prone to nail-biting, knuckle-cracking, constant fidgeting, twitchy eyes, insomnia, getting completely stressed out over entirely inconsequential events, thinking everything is the end of the world and that my life is ruined, and so on and so forth.
My most acute anxiety typically occurs at night after I decide to go to bed, usually because I can no longer even keep my eyes open or stop yawning. But then, like clockwork, as soon as my head hits the pillow and I turn out the light, I'm wide awake (often for hours). I've resorted to a variety of measures to try to counteract this in the last few months, the most effective being a Xanax with a glass of wine. But I'm out of Xanax, and doing that makes it almost impossible to get out of bed the next day unless I sleep, like, 11 hours. (In which case I get up feeling as if I've been sleeping for days, i.e., wonderful.)
So last night was one of those nights. I was already a little wound-up from a long day of dealing with financial aid options for school, picking out books, working, obsessing about the new boy I've met once, but nevertheless want to marry, even though I'm sure he has no interest in me, worrying about getting a job and how I'm going to pay my bills in school, and one small bout of spontaneous crying while I was sitting in traffic, because I'm just feeling really emotional right now for a lot of reasons.
About an hour before bed I took a Clonopin (mild anti-anxiety drug prescribed by my doctor; it's not as strong as Xanax) and drank a glass of wine. I read for awhile on the couch, and not in bed, as my doctor also instructed me to do (because I need to start associating the bed with sleeping only), and when I could literally no longer hold my eyes open, I went to bed and turned out the light. Open go the eyes. For 2 hours. After about an hour and 15 minutes, I finally got up, drank 2 pretty healthy shots of whisky, and laid on the couch to watch some TV to distract me from whatever it was bothering me. I couldn't really figure it out. Everything was rationalized: school was taken care of through my loans (tuition, books, insurance, and even about $1,300.00 left over just for me), I didn't really care that much about the boy, as I'm not even remotely interested in actually having a relationship with anyone at this point (he's just a fun distraction), I could survive at least a month or more (if I'm frugal) on the amount of money I'm going to receive in the next couple of weeks. I had no idea what was troubling me so much, but the whisky finally eventually kicked in, and around 2 I passed out, but not before resetting my alarm clock from 6:15 to 7:15.
Then this morning it hit me: I'm having the "first day of school jitters!" I thought that at the age of 28, I would be secure enough to be past all that, and not so worried about being judged by my peers (who, in all likelihood, will mostly be about 20), but apparently not. All those terrifying first days of junior high and high school are surging back on me, creating in me an anxiety I had totally forgotten about and put out of my mind for years. I was never popular in school. I always had a small group of friends, but there were certain classes (or entire years) all through grade school that were just unbearable, and sometimes downright terrifying (I got my life threatened by jocks on an almost daily basis). I know everyone suffered through this to some extent, and I'm not saying mine was any worse than anyone else's, but just maybe that I internalized it all a little more than I should have. So now that I've realized that's what it is, I feel terrified. I started freaking out earlier, questioning this whole decision to go back to school, wondering what the hell I was doing, and what in God's name made me think I could actually be a good therapist to someone? Am I just totally wasting thousands of dollars and years of my life on some other pipe-dream I'm going to be bored with as soon as I'm done?
But what it really all comes down to is that I'm terrified that some football meathead jock from fucking Lubbock or some shit is gonna decide he doesn't like the way I walk and start calling me a faggot every day in Spanish class. Or knock my books out of my hands in the halls. Or everyone's just going to think I'm a loser, and none of the graduate students will want to hang out with me (and I'm counting on hanging out with them). I'm afraid there won't be any free tables in the coffee shop on campus when I need to sit and do homework between classes and it's gonna be like in the cafeteria in junior high when all of your other friends had different lunches than you did, and you stood there like an idiot, tray in hand, scanning the sea of assholes for a place to sit and finding none, and just knowing that everybody was making fun of you for not having any friends.
There is pretty much nothing more terrifying to me in life than being judged by my peers, and until I was about 23 or so, it didn't usually go all that well. Even now I still get incredibly insecure and self-conscious about it, and more of my life than I'd like to admit is fairly well calculated to have what I consider to be the most prime "appearance" or outcome. I suppose that ultimately I'm inordinately afraid of rejection and humiliation, and going back to school just exacerbates those already rather flared-up fears. Just thinking about walking into that first class this coming Monday morning makes my fingers shake. I know I'll get used to it and I'm sure everything will be fine, and if nothing else, I'll totally win over my professors (one hopes), but me being me, I can't help but to constantly imagine the worst-case scenario.