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Making sacrifices

“I had my first panic attack on the plane from Amsterdam to New York. I was about to move there for 4 years to attend my dream school, the ‘Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music’. I remember looking down at the ocean and suddenly feeling completely unsafe, like the plane was going to drop out of the sky at any moment. I wanted to escape the situation I was in but I couldn’t go anywhere, so I started hyperventilating.

For my arrival, I had booked a hotel close to the amazing Times square. It was my first time in New York and I wanted the full experience. But it was different than I expected. Every time I stepped outside to get something to eat, my senses were overloaded. My brain was blurry, every sound and every billboard was too much. I felt uncomfortable in restaurants and scared on the street; as if I was constantly in danger. I was worried that I was about to go crazy. I kept telling myself it was just the jetlag.

As weeks and months passed I still found myself struggling regularly with these panic attacks, and I was sure that I had anxiety - a word used so commonly nowadays, that I never realized it could be this severe. It had me feeling so down. I cried as I called people from back home, and I would even feel physically sick. I had never been so scared and insecure in my life.

When I went back home to Amsterdam for Christmas, my parents and I repeatedly discussed whether or not I should go back to New York. I knew I had the chance to stay home – and my physically tired body was begging me to do so – but I decided to push through and get my ass back to New York. Looking back I can say I am proud that I made that decision. In the same place where I developed my anxiety, I slowly learned to fight it. I learned to appreciate the quirks of beautiful New York: the strange people, the music, the delicious pizza slices, my new friends. But most of all, I learned that following your dreams truly does include making sacrifices, and life can really be a bitch sometimes. In the end, I just got to know myself really well. Thank you, New York, see you very soon.”

- Stevie, The Netherlands

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