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Assuming the worst

I promised to reinvent myself when I got to Carleton. I overthink and stress out about everything, from the prompt of an English essay to what flavor of ice cream to order. (Are these the best examples? Maybe I could think of something funnier, or more relatable). What I need is to stop over-complicating simple matters. Instead of stopping in my tracks to think for a while, I need to trust myself and get on with my day.

These were the thoughts cluttering my head as I scurried down the staircase to the Burton basement. 8:05 already (it just turned 8:06)! By the time I entered Room 03, dry-erase ink was already tattooed across half the whiteboard. I felt a thousand admonishing eyes on me, and my cheeks flushed redder than the fruit of a snowball tree, both from the suffocating heat and the embarrassment of arriving late.

As I waded slowly and cumbersomely through the throng of staff members, I saw each of them holding a sheet of paper, a stack of which sat at the front. What could be on this paper? Undoubtedly, something so important, so tantalizing, that only the select few, the elite, the punctual, could lay their eyes upon its secrets.

And there I was, surely the only person in the room without a paper. This was it; my journalism career had reached its terminus before even leaving the station. I would be prohibited from any future contributions to the Carletonian. I would be mocked and ridiculed and ostracized and loathed and forced to limp out of the meeting, prematurely, with my tail between my legs.

I returned to my dorm an hour later, paper in hand, thankful that my internal hysteria had remained so. Not for the first time, I found myself guilty of breaking the promise I had made to myself.

I needed to redeem myself. Sitting at my desk, listening to Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill Sonata,” I thought long and hard about what my next article could entail. It needed to be something that both I and the student body as a whole had had experience with and could relate to. Eventually, I settled upon this topic.

But what if this isn’t relatable at all? Am I delusional to think that my peers overthink simple things? What if the sole outcome of this article is exposing me and my freakishly contorted mind? I’ll be more out of place than a circus clown at the opera. People will point and stare and make jokes and hurl abuse. Very soon, I’ll be barred from attending any clubs and organizations, then from my classes, naturally followed by suspension, expulsion and, finally, incarceration.

Or perhaps (slightly more plausibly), I’m letting my paranoia get the best of me. It’s natural for people, especially those of us entering our first ever term of college to be nervous, anxious and wracked with worry. Should I lie awake at night contemplating the worst case of every scenario? Or should I maintain a modicum of faith in myself?

I cannot allow myself to become frozen in time, fixated on the insignificance of the past when my whole future lies ahead of me (don’t spend an hour and a half in the dining hall with friends and maybe you’ll be on time). It’s not worth spending hours upon hours staring at a blank Google Doc, letting indecision and uncalled-for panic tear me apart. I shouldn’t always assume the worst. I should just write.

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