Wearing the face from the jar by the door 

17 Sep 2022
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My eldest daughter is returning to university and is enjoying every moment of the anticipation - new town, new people, new course, post-grad comfort.  

My youngest daughter is starting university and is suffering anxiety to the highest degree, tears, anger, vomiting, pale, shaky, a worried exhaustion and is to be found many times just staring into space. Same recipe, different cake.

When she is with her 6 new flat mates (6!!) I know she will zip on the Eleanor Rigby face and she will become that face. You know the one, we all do, I’d guess every one of us wears it at least sometimes. It is the face that says ‘this is the me I am willing to present to you’.  

With 6 brand new people to live with (6!!), with whom there is no foundation of trust or comfy slipper security, it is probably the wise choice, at least in the short term. 

And I wonder when, and if, it will come off.  Why do many of us still find it so hard to wear our own face?  The one that says ‘this is me, it’s what I have, accept it or shuffle on’.

Perhaps we all owe it to ourselves to stand just a little taller, just a little straighter, and say “take me or leave me, this is me”.

I’m going to find my son and tell him I need a cuddle. This is me. And he is very good at them. 

Love from

The room above the garage 

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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Comments

Tutti Frutti

Sept. 18, 2022, 6:57 a.m.

Hi RATG Dealing with your younger daughter's anxiety sounds like such a difficult thing to have to do as a parent (as well as being horrible for her of course). I do hope that things will work out well for her when she gets there. And I hope your son has been able to provide the hugs you need to get you through this. I am sending you virtual hugs and thinking of you and both your daughters. Love TF x

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the room above the garage

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:19 p.m.

Hello TF, such a kind thing to send. Thank you, I’m (mainly) ok, worried naturally but in a way I’m comfortable because I know these are the steps she needs to make to become stronger. Would like to sleep peacefully though…hopefully soon. How are you?

Tutti Frutti

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:55 p.m.

Been struggling a bit (work stuff) but thankfully all OK family wise. Love TF x

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 18, 2022, 7 a.m.

Morning Ratg, Thank you for sharing how your children are all so different. Amazing that one is super-confident and is possibly thinking ‘been there, done that’ about her sister and is excited to be starting on her next journey. Can she offer some helpful tips for her younger sister? She must realise how daunting it all is, as well as exciting…then there’s your latest fledgling - going off to a new start, a new chapter. It is daunting! The many guises of our self: it’s always interesting meeting new people (and we have met a whole new village of people since moving) many have been interested enough to have a chat and find out about us and vice versa - some are downright rude and they’ve obviously thought we offer them nothing, so they have already moved on and we barely get a hello or an acknowledgment from them!! Others are just friendly, want us to join in with various things; and there are others again, who want our help for charity projects and to schmooze us, ha ha!! For each encounter, I’ve tried to just be me - the same mostly smiley face to all, whether it’s been the high and mighty who think they are above us, or the rest of the everyday folk who we meet on walks, in shops…I’m nervous meeting the ones who don’t want to bother with us so perhaps I need to find my ‘Eleanor’ face or maybe I already do! I have learnt yet again, that I shouldn’t try so hard with these people - not play their game. Your nervous daughter is going to take time to adjust - she may find that being with all these other girls will bring out a new confidence in her, or may find she doesn’t want to be with so many or want the pressure to ‘perform’ with them, because it will be a performance as they find out about each other and sort out a new pecking order. I do hope she finds a few friends of her own type - the genuine ones who will become friends for years, bless her - I feel for her. She needs to remember that even the over-confident ones will probably have their own version of a face on - they’ll all be playing a game. Would she talk to her older sister and find out some gems to arm herself with? I may not have been to university - but over the years, I’ve been in new situations that call for a ‘game face’ - one where you hold back and see who’s who. It’s like having the hat by the door - put it on if you have an unexpected caller: if it’s someone you want to talk to or invite in, you say you’ve just arrived home - if it’s not, you’re just on your way out!! Important lessons to be learnt over the next few months and not just the educational stuff on her course….she will be learning more about herself and the relationships with so many others on her course and in her accommodation. I wish and hope for a better start than she’s worrying about and much luck. Tell her that if the smiles on the faces are more genuine, the smile reaches the eyes. Hope you got the hugs and cuddles you and your boy give each other. Love and Bear hugs x x x

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the room above the garage

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:23 p.m.

Hello lovely Bear, such thoughtful words, thank you. The girls are very close to each other, and so different that they are two halves and lean on each other a lot. I’m lucky. They are too. Sominterrsti g that you say you are learning again…same with me, we think we’ve learned and then we slip into comfort and then something pops back up. So true about people having a game face. Little girl thinks she ‘should’ be able to do A, B, C and berates herself. I’m reminding her I’m a work in progress and 31 years older!

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 18, 2022, 5:24 p.m.

You’re a mere youngster lovely lady ;-). We are all a WiP. So glad the girls can lean on each other and both lean into you x x x

Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 7:04 a.m.

Good Morning RATG I am sure your daughter will be okay once she settles in with her flatmates. In the meantime she will have your reassurance both physically(hugs) and mentally. Your final sentence made me rather sad. Not for you but selfishly for me. There have been many occasions in the couple of years when I have yearned for a reassuring hug. Covid obviously stopped it completely but my nearest and dearest are not huggers. I sometimes feel like hugging my therapist but I think that would be unethical and breaking boundaries. Sorry to ramble on but have a peaceful Sunday. Txx

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Sally

Sept. 18, 2022, 8:03 a.m.

I know it’s not the same, but sending you a big, virtual hug, Teg!

Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 8:23 a.m.

Hi Sally Thank you very much. I shall treasure it! Txx

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 18, 2022, 10:03 a.m.

The biggest gentlest Bear hug is winging it’s virtual way to you today Teg x x x

Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 10:21 a.m.

Hi Mrs Bear How can I manage all these virtual hugs! You are very kind. Txx

the room above the garage

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:29 p.m.

Oh Teg, I’ve welled up at the thought of being cuddle short and I’m sending mine in to the pile. For those who don’t enjoy a cuddle (I have a friend who feels uncomfortable) then I hold back but otherwise I very much like to. Here is mine, it’s about 3 seconds long if I don’t know somebody overly well and I will talk at the same time. There, I’ve hugged you :-D

Lexi

Sept. 18, 2022, 3:32 p.m.

Hugs from across the pond Teg! And I hug my therapist all the time, ethics be damned! xo

Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 4:22 p.m.

That is very reassuring RATG. I am appreciating all the kind hugs. Thank you. Txx

Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 4:26 p.m.

Hi Lexi And thankfully they have arrived sweet and dry! I appreciate this kind Moodscope family more and more. Txx

G

Sept. 18, 2022, 11:54 p.m.

I’m not a hugger Teg but I will make an exception and send one to you (are you bored with all these hugs yet!!) I surprised myself when I hugged a nurse after having a procedure recently. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or her!

Teg

Sept. 19, 2022, 6:35 a.m.

Hi G Thanks, I'm sorry I missed your kind message yesterday. Is it possible to have too many hugs? The advantage of them being virtual is that you can space them out! I remember hugging my GP many years ago. She was very surprised. Txx

Liz

Sept. 21, 2022, 7:19 a.m.

Hi Teg, just read your reply. I'm a huge hugger and I missed it too. Sending virtual and cuddly hugs from the Highlands xx

Ruth

Sept. 18, 2022, 7:38 a.m.

My niece has just gone to Uni on Friday for the first time with that anxiety. Since them I have had Skype and telephone calls with her. Tears involved. I will continue to support her until she feels able to settle. She has social anxiety and is finding it so hard. It is taking all my strength not to go and get her! But I have to let her do this. It has brought up things for me too like did I cause this in her? Not sure I did though. There are many other things that could have contributed. That's what I do though, I internalise rather than look at the bigger picture. "It MUST be me". A learning curve not just for my niece but me too.

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the room above the garage

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:34 p.m.

Hello Ruth, everything you’ve written makes complete sense to me. There is such an expectation that teens should be quite happy drinking, partying and blindly feeling happy at this stage, and it’s just not true. They are given tricky living conditions with often poor facilities (I’d struggle to cook easily in the kitchens and I cook all the time) and expected to be happy eating junk, drinking through and not needing quality sleep. I hope your niece settles well and I’m so glad she has you, it’s quite an honour to be trusted I think.

Ruth

Sept. 18, 2022, 1:59 p.m.

Thank you. Jennifer is not into drinking and partying so is feeling quite alone while others do this. Thank you for what you said though about being trusted. It has made me feel better about myself, that I can help her. X

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 18, 2022, 5:27 p.m.

I think that’s half the trouble, Ruth - there are plenty of students who aren’t into partying but feel they have to, to seem normal! She is lucky to know you’re there for her and Skype is so handy…give her time. Bear xx

Sally

Sept. 18, 2022, 8:01 a.m.

My heart goes out to you, Ratg. It’s so heart wrenching seeing our vulnerable ones go through a tangle of emotions . She probably feels the weight of expectations on her not to fail, put on her by herself. It is of course a huge life change, going off to university away from home. I remember it well . Friends of ours have had children who didn’t flourish in the first term, and ended up coming home. And that’s been fine. They’ve simply enrolled in the following year at the university nearest home, and done well. As soon as we realise it just isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, the better it will be. Of course, your daughter might get off to a flying start, and be absolutely fine. There’s no knowing. Yes, 7 is a large number of people in one house/ flat, so make sure she takes headphones! Very best of luck, and thank goodness for your affectionate son!!

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Orangeblossom

Sept. 18, 2022, 8:58 a.m.

Thanks for the blog RATG. I have learnt to try & hide how I feel because in the past it hasn’t been acceptable to some. My anti-imperialism isn’t acceptable in the family into which I married. My in-laws were imperialists, believing that the British Empire was the greatest thing in the world. Full of justice & compassion. I prefer the Welsh flag & the anthem that the Welsh have adopted as theirs. I have lived in Wales for longer than I have lived anywhere in the world. But I do remember that my children are 50% English.

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The Gardener

Sept. 18, 2022, 9:38 a.m.

Dear RATG. Six of my family went through the 'ordeal' of freshers' week, settling in, and coping with separation and nerves. They all did it at 'normal' time. I did it when I was 50! My real fear was being accepted by the young students, it was OK. There was some sort of entertainment at the end of freshers' week, in a marquee. I was standing next to two Welsh girls, relieved that they knew each other, but still nervous. We could not see. I said 'Let's climb on a table'' they looked alarmed, and I said 'come on'. So we, giving each other strength, climbed on a table and joined in the rest. They were not in my faculty, I hope they had a good three years. Your elder daughter is obviously fine, hope younger one conquers her shyness - memories of Freshers' week, so many things to join. The day my first grand-son was born I was dressed up as Machiavelli for a balloon debate, quite a double. ***

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Sue

Sept. 18, 2022, 10:23 a.m.

Dear RATG, I feel for your younger daughter and hope the older one can give some good tips. I didn't leave home until I married at 24, but then and now it is a big change to go away and live with people you don't know. Two in my family started Uni then decided in the first year it wasn't for them. One moved to OU ack living at home, and one started a business during covid which seems to be doing well. I hope she loves it once she is there, but if not, there are plenty of other options,

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Lexi

Sept. 18, 2022, 3:30 p.m.

Exciting yet scary time for your youngest RATG! I am 53 and I am just learning how to be me around others. Some days are better than others. On the days I do show my Eleanor Rigby side I make sure I have lots (and lots and lots) of down time/alone time. Does this mean you'll be an empty nester? If so, hugs! xo

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Teg

Sept. 18, 2022, 4:33 p.m.

Hi Lexi I think it becomes easier to be yourself as you age. I am in my seventies and although I try to be friendly and sociable as much as possible, I know there are times when I can feel tired and grumpy. We need to need to understand our changing moods and others need to make allowances for our behaviour. Txx

Lexi

Sept. 18, 2022, 4:48 p.m.

Very well said Teg! xo

Mary Wednesday

Sept. 19, 2022, 5:30 a.m.

Oh yes. I had that 2 years ago with daughter no. 1 - who scarcely came back from Edinburgh this year, worked The Fringe this summer and is now complaining that her lecture timetable, scheduled lab work and the subsequent reports will leave her no time for a social life! Well, she *chose* chemistry - and I did warn her. Daughter no. 2 enters her final year of A levels, has done no work on uni selection whatsoever (denial is not just a river in Egypt: she takes after her father in that one) and will exhibit all the symptoms of your daughter - who I wish well, bless her. I envy you your affectionate huggy son. My elder one is huggy, and we miss each other very much when she is away.

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Bailey

Sept. 19, 2022, 6:32 p.m.

Be who you are...everyone else is taken. That being said...people are a huge stressor and trigger for me also and I have just recently given up the anti anxiety meds.

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Liz

Sept. 21, 2022, 7:17 a.m.

Hi RATG. Sorry to hear about your daughter's struggles. It is such a huge time of adjustment, the twenties, and especially so going to a new university. I wonder why we are so afraid? It is exhausting though, presenting the "you" that you think will appeal to the majority of people. My inner bullshitometer is getting better at sorting out who will be a person that I would like in my life and who is not for me. You still get "romanced" by the wrong sort, usually someone that wants something from you, that perhaps they don't have themselves, or they think that you are something that you're not and the blinkers are removed. A good example is someone very close to me who is very talented and the people who were all over him like a rash initially. We were both romanced by rather shallow people who do only get in touch when they want something. So you learn to step away. But you can still get fooled as they make you feel so important at the time... until someone else is there more important and then you learn. I present myself to the world as I am now, but I didn't for a while. I tried to fit in and please as a way to get more popular. But I think that is forgiven as in your 20s as I was, you are more malleable than perhaps a 50 something who has seen more of the world and more of people. My social circle is smaller now and more select and I'm fine with that. Hoping that your younger daughter is blessed with finding her own tribe in a daunting new situation and that her face fits just fine, and people take her as they find her. Thank you for your blog xx

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