THE FRESHMAN FREAK-OUT (and other anxieties)


Eric Van Fossen


It is back to school time and there will no doubt be many changes for those returning to school. Either going to a new school or facing the freshman year in high school or college tends to induce a lot of anxiety in students. Even adults experience the same emotions if they are starting a new job or maybe returning to school as an adult learner.

Additionally, many parents have anxiety for their children that are headed off to college for the first time.

So how can someone overcome this sense of anxiety? It is simple really and it doesn’t even need to take time out of an already busy day.

First, see the first few moments of your upcoming stressful event as you see them now; sensing stress.

Imagine that you have a black and white photo of how you presently predict the first moments of that first day going. It may be full of fear and anxiety but keep it black and white. See this photo in a basic black and dull picture frame. Go ahead and explore the sensations in that photo. What specifically is causing you to stress about the event? Allow you to look at it from different angles but keep the image dull and black and white. You can choose this type of conceptual image as the initial viewpoint of any stress inducing situation; a black and white photo that is surrounded by a black frame that seemingly locks all of those emotions in place. Explore them a bit before moving onto the next step. But remember that this is just a black and white photo of the event. At this time you are not actually living in the event. This allows you a third person viewpoint and keeps you somewhat detached from the event so as not to induce the stress that is associated with it. This is how one can imagine any stressful situation like that first day of the freshman year.

Re-frame it now.

This is your image and you are the photo editor. You can now edit and fix a few things within that photo to make it appealing. Touch up the image as you need to in order to make it comfortable, happy and empowering. Move things around as needed. You get to look as good as you want to look in this new image. Put a super hero cape on yourself if you want to. Have fun with the image. Make it better. Take that black and white photo and give it all the color and vivid beauty that you can conjure up. It is your photo so you can choose any color scheme desired. Some prefer soft and comforting pastels as their colors while others may choose bright and energetic colors to paint into this photo; the photo now becomes a powerful beautifully colorized new image per your preferences. Already things are feeling better.

Next get rid of that constricting frame. Here you have two choices. Some like to place their now beautiful color photo into a regal large antique frame, full of fine craftsmanship and swirls and carvings. It gives the colorized photo body and strength and security. Or perhaps you may prefer a shiny silver glossy or white frame for your new image. Whichever feels right and is empowering to you; is the right choice.

Additionally you may choose to enlarge the colorized photo into poster size and simply have no frame. For some, the frame is still too constricting. With no frame there are no boundaries. The image is allowed to grow and become even more powerful and proudly swell to encompass the entire wall of your mind.

Feels better right?

Now for the second method of improving your perception of that stressful event; as you go to bed each night we are all blessed with what can be called twilight sleep. This is the comforting stage between being fully awake and fully asleep. It is very much what hypnosis feels like and can be considered a hypnotic state. This is one of the most powerful times of your day. Utilize it.

As you drift off to sleep each night picture that upcoming stressful situation. Let’s use that first morning of school for the freshman year as an example.

See yourself having the most positive first five minutes of the first day that you can imagine. Approach the doors and realize that many of your friends from eighth grade are right here with you and behind you. You already know people in this new school and they are right here with you. Perhaps you don’t just walk through the doors but maybe kick them open and announce, “I am here and this is going to be great!”  Now, it is vital that you incorporate all of your senses in this imagery. Smell the new pencils and papers. They have a distinct scent to them and it means a new beginning every school year. Hear all of the sounds around you and feel the energy in the air as everyone enters for the new start and new adventures. Hear your friends talking around you and pick up on the chatter of others that you may not know now, but will know soon. See the bright lights and the new walls and windows and doors. Perhaps you have new clothes and a new back pack or book bag. Feel the bag’s weight on your shoulder, it is as comfortable as a friends re-assuring touch.

If you are in the band or playing a sport then you already know many upper classmen from those activities. Counting these upper classmen and the friends from last year that came with you; realize that you already know many people.

So in your twilight sleep every night work through this first five minute imagery as vividly as you can. Make it a self-empowering adventure of sight sound colors and kinesthetic senses. Make it yours. Give it to your brain and allow this new image to replace that old sense of anxiety that you used to feel about this moment.

Re-framing and positive imagery can help relieve a sense of stress for almost any upcoming event. High school and college freshman can use it. Parents of college freshman can use it to get thru the “drop–off” and the anxiousness they understandably feel for their children being without them. Or is it the other way around; the fear of being without the child?

These methods are helpful for the nervous public speaker, the athlete, a job interview or even the first day on the job.

Colorize and develop the original snapshot you had of the event. Put in a powerful and desirable frame. Conversely, like a poster, it may even be too big and powerful for even a frame to hold. Also use the gift of twilight sleep to walk thru the event using all of your senses. Make it grand and over the top in color, sight, sound and emotions or feelings. Allow yourself to have super powers in your mind and utilize them in your imagery.

We all have a mind. We all therefore, have super powers.