When it comes to university, I find one of the most daunting parts of being a student has to be going to seminars. After a year and a half of learning online, it is no surprise that the idea of having such a close-knit, in-person, interaction with some of your peers, some of whom you may have never even met before, is slightly anxiety triggering.
I have certainly found the introduction to this year very nerve-racking, as anxiety seems to come hand in hand with almost every seminar I attend. However, as the term has gone on, I have found each week gets easier and easier.
Seminars are arguably the most important part of your academic life at university. They give you a chance to clear up any confusion in the material being discussed in lectures and allow you to get to know your lecturer better, making it easier to approach that dreaded essay submission period with confidence. But in order to make the most out of these seminars, you have to get involved, despite the nerves.
My first piece of advice when wanting to settle your nerves in seminars is to go. The more times you decide to miss out on a seminar the more your nerves will worsen, as you aren’t proving your anxiety wrong. This first little hurdle is the most important because if you never go to a seminar, you will never get a taste of what you’re missing and slowly but surely, it becomes a cycle of never attending. With each seminar your confidence will increase from simply attending, to speaking up and getting involved.
Secondly, read the material and be prepared. If you have entered any situation unprepared, you have almost set yourself up to fail, especially in regard to feeling anxious. Go to the lecture, do the readings, go over the possible seminar questions. If you go into a seminar knowing you have done everything expected of you, you have no reason to worry, as you can be confident that you deserve to be heard just as much as the others.
Lastly, don’t wait to be asked a question. If you have something to say that you think is relevant to the seminar, say it. Everyone is much more comfortable talking about something on their own terms, rather than being asked a question out of the blue which forces you to think on your feet. Get control of the situation and involve yourself in the way you want to be involved. In addition to this, once you have put yourself out there, you may be less likely to be asked upon in a seminar as you have already spoken up, which will ease your anxiety.