Theatre teaches us magnificently about ourselves and the people that exist in our lives, so it’s no surprise that it does wonders for our mental health. After suffering from anxiety during my first year at University, Theatre saved both my University experience and my mental health.
When I left for University, it wasn’t the momentary milestone experience that a student envisions. It wasn’t easy to find my place in somewhere that I didn’t belong to. In an attempt to embrace my opportunity, I was masking the reality of the situation that in turn disrupted my mental health, resulting in a diagnosis with anxiety. After completing the year, with substantial consideration I transferred to a closer university, and Sheffield quickly became my home. I have always been passionate about Theatre, and I’m not afraid to say that I go through watching Theatre performances, how quickly others might get through books. To my surprise, I found a Theatre society and without hesitation, I joined in an attempt to make the most out of the second chance that I had at University.
It was overwhelming how welcoming everyone was and it’s true what they say about Northerners being the friendliest in the country. Being surrounded by a group of like-minded students with the same passion, it gave me the confidence to put myself out there and regain the trust that was previously lost. Theatre students are generally more engaging by nature, so they will take you under their wing and make you feel as welcome as possible. On my first fancy-dressed theme bar crawl with Theatre, I met a group of people that became my rocks through University and continue to have a special place in my heart today. How could people not befriend a 4ft” 11 girl drowning in a ginger wig, dressed as Annie?!
I knew I could do it regardless, but my involvement with Theatre gave me the necessities to stand on my own two feet at University. It’s amazing how impactful it is to have people behind you, providing you with support to try things that I would normally be too fearful of. I had done auditions before, but from joining the Theatre, I was able to proudly say that I conquered some of my fears that stood in the way of what I was passionate about, such as singing on stage in front of other people.
I’m always questioned how I can do Theatre so confidently despite having anxiety. It’s not entirely believed when I claim that class presentations trigger a panic attack, despite singing in front of people I have never met. But in Theatre, I’m acting as a different person compared to presentations where the person I’m performing is myself. I owe Theatre for prepping my confidence for life after University. I can present myself more confidently now that has helped me both in my professional life and social life.