“Hangxiety” is a term I have been introduced to since arriving here at St Andrew’s, and unfortunately one I’ve become well acquainted with from time to time. This compound word refers rather obviously to the state of extreme anxiety one can feel after a night of drinking. However, as my first weeks here turned into months, and the excitement of freshers week dissolved into an average weekend out, I recognized the next-day “hangxiety” we all say to be experiencing may have nothing to do with drinking at all.
Thrown head-first into a whirlpool spinning with new surroundings, new people, new accents, and for many of us a new continent—our comfort level can easily dwindle. I’d find that a seemingly pleasant conversation with someone led to an eruption of over-analyzing what I said, how I said it, and what impression I made on them. Let’s not be mistaken, everyday social encounters don’t cripple everyone with such apprehension; in fact, I’m fairly certain that some people confidently walk away from meeting people with an exorbitant amount of pride.
But for those of us who can’t simply make friends over shared astrology signs or the same choice of non-dairy milk, creating a social life from scratch can be quite taxing.
This rather long-winded explanation of what is essentially just social anxiety is leading somewhere I promise; it’s leading to an explanation of how I, an anxious and awkward student, find solace in this overwhelming social process.
While St Andrews’ challenges and excitements can likely be found at any university, it stands uniquely alone in one sense. Its visual beauty and distinctive charm is utterly astounding. Surrounded by three beaches, remarkable buildings, and a richly historic town, St Andrews is nothing short of a paradise. This idyllic atmosphere is what we as students must lean on in moments when the inevitable series of failures, rejections, and chaos becomes all too much. It’s human nature to adapt to, and therefore take for granted our surroundings, but when one finds themself in an environment such as ours, it is essential that we don’t.
While the numerous stressors can seem incessant, the most natural forms of stress relievers are all around us: a simple walk along the beach, a moment alone at the castle ruins, or perhaps even a solo trip to a bookstore with no intention of actually buying a book. These seemingly small escapades could be all that’s needed to quiet the voice reminding you of the assignment that’s late, or of the friend that’s been nagging you to buy grossly overpriced tickets for an event that they promise will be “totally worth it”.
Whether you want to temporarily feel anonymous, or like the only person on the planet, my advice is the same. I deeply urge those who can’t help but get swept away in the current of responsibilities and restlessness to step outside and simply walk until your mind begins to tire with your legs, and I promise at least an ounce of the weight on your shoulders will slowly resign.