Anxiety: It’s something that we have all experienced at least once in our life.
I mean, just take a look at the expectations put onto millennials these days. Paying for college, passing your classes, finding a job in a tight market all while trying to find some semblance of a personal life. There is no shortage of pressure on us and this can easily turn into a burden on our mental health.
For me, anxiety is no stranger and something that I have dealt with my entire life. It often comes in the form of social anxiety and a fear of putting myself in a position of vulnerability and discomfort. It is easy to imagine, then, how stressful an internship can be. Workplace anxiety manifests itself many different ways and is not a cut-and-dry kind of thing but something that many people can relate to.
Although sometimes there is little that you can do to squelch it, here are a few things that I have learned over the years to ease my mind:
- Remember that you are there to learn. As an intern, you aren’t expected to know everything. You are not expected to be a seasoned professional so don’t put pressure on yourself to come across that way. Be upfront with what you don’t know and always be willing to learn.
- Strive for success, not perfection. Workplace anxiety can often come from a fear of failure. We want to succeed and be the best, but we are only human and perfection is not sustainable. Once we get past this idea that we aren’t allowed to make a single mistake we can allow ourselves to breathe and takes chances that come with risks (and rewards).
- Force yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter how hard that may be. You are presented with a new and scary opportunity and if you’re anything like me, you imagine all of the worst case scenarios and end of psyching yourself out. But sometimes some of the best and most rewarding life lessons come from stepping outside of our comfort zones and embracing new experiences.
- Take a breather. Self-care is of the utmost importance. It may seem silly, but simple things such as taking a five minute break from the office to go walk outside or going to bed an hour earlier can make a noticeable difference. You aren’t going to be able to do your job well if you don’t first take care of yourself.
- Speak up! This is by far the hardest tip for me to follow. I am naturally quiet and much prefer to sit back and observe. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve regretted speaking up in meetings or conversations simply because I was afraid. Your palms get clammy, you are unable to spit out the question and suddenly your opportunity is gone. I always end up kicking myself for missing those opportunities. Speak up and say what you want to say! You lose a lot more by never asking than you could by taking that chance.