I used to deal terribly with nerves. They would consume me and affect performance in regards to whatever event/thing I was anticipating. For me nerves were coupled with anxiety which I don't believe is always the case. It definitely was, for me, before a few years ago, but now any nerves I do feel will either be coupled with excitement or the knowledge that it will be okay/it will be great/it's not going to last for ever etc.
I actually think I was pretty dramatic when it came to exams. I blame my nerves for not doing as well as I wanted to with my GCSEs. It frustrates me to this day. However I don't get too worked up about it because I know I was very nervous, very fearful and very unsure how to deal with it all. The whole experience definitely taught me a few things about dealing with nerves. And I continued to learn- and not just when it came to exams.
So, if I'd have an exam around the age of 15/16 or a running event from 15 and below, the date of the exam/event or whatever it was would be planted in my brain. The nerves, anxiety and genuine fear would feel like it was growing and growing and growing. I actually think it never grew until the day or so before. The nervous plant was pretty tall in the first place. I would genuinely enjoy every day (even super good ones!) less because I was anticipating this date so much. Then, when it was a day or so before (even way before that too!), my whole body would be filled with dread. Complete and utter, terrifying dread. Then when it was the day and it was time, it was all I could think about, all I could talk about and it naturally made facing the task terrible. Sometimes I would chill out when I was taking part in whatever it was but sometimes I would just mess up/do way worse than I could have.
I would ignore that fact that EVERYBODY GET NERVES and yet now it's a massive comfort to me. Think about it- Obama gets nerves; your superhero mother gets nerves; your best friend also taking the exam gets nerves. It is far better to feel surrounded by people feeling the same or capable of feeling the same than to feel alone. And we could never be alone when it comes to feeling nerves.
Another thing is that anything I've experienced would never have caused the end of the world- I hope that's the same for all of us! When I was 16 and below I needed to focus on that way more. Really, nothing ended disastrously. So I should have sat back and enjoyed the ride as much as possible. I should have felt calm and aced everything as much as I could have. I know now more than ever that as long as you try hard, what does anything matter?
Another thing that springs to mind is preparation. It's key. I wasn't perfect from 17 onwards when it came to this and this year at university, I know I have not ever been 100% prepared. Sometimes I've really sucked. But when I know I have prepared well/as much as possible, what else can I do when the clock strikes 9am and I have an exam? When I'm sat at an exam table it does comfort me that I can't revise anymore- that's it! It's time.
Nerves can be nasty things, but it is possible to deal with them and even thrive with them- they can be your best friend if you want them to be/can find a way. You can even ignore them. When I started my first job, I simply refused to work myself up before the day. Completely ignoring the evil side of nerves works- they do go away! When it came to my first day I simply used my nerves and turned them into confidence. I faked it until I made it.
Nerves don't have to be scary. They don't even have to exist. But we can work wonders with them.
Calm & Excited,
The Girl in the Moonlight.