You landed your dream job, a well-paying internship that will allow you to support yourself and your loved ones. It’s an exciting new venture and you’re extremely grateful, yet you can’t shake the angst-ridden feeling in the pit of your stomach.

You finally got accepted into university for the course you’re passionate about, after years of trying. You obtained a full scholarship and will receive a stipend each month to help you fund your basic student living expenses. It’s a wonderful blessing, yet you still can’t help but worry that you won’t be able to live up to your bursar’s expectations and obtain the required 65% for each subject in order to secure funding for next year.

You have met a wonderful partner, who loves and respects you. So far, it’s the best relationship you’ve ever had, and you know deep down that you never have to worry about their betraying you, or stifling you in other areas of your life. Yet, you still feel like you can’t trust that they won’t hurt you like your ex did.

People often speak about how ‘exciting’ new beginnings are, but the truth is guys, they can be pretty darn scary too! Fearing the unknown does not make you ungrateful in any way, it just makes you human. We all get scared, especially when there’s a lot at stake.

When I started working as an intern at the FunDza Literacy Trust in 2017, despite all my colleagues and my boss Mignon Hardie, making me feel right at home, I still felt so incredibly nervous during the first few weeks of my time in the office. New faces came and went, parties were regularly held to celebrate birthdays, to bid farewell to beloved colleagues who found employment elsewhere, and to rejoice in various successes achieved by FunDza. It was a wonderful work environment and I was grateful to be a part of the FunDza family for a time. Yet, my anxious disposition still made transitioning to the new environment, and connecting with my colleagues, rather challenging.

That’s the thing, guys, fear and anxiety doesn’t always mean that the venture you’re about to take on is a bad one, or one that it isn’t worth undertaking. When I feel anxious, I pray and remember that everyone was a ‘beginner’ at one point in their lives.

This year, I will be undertaking a new venture at Stellenbosch University and I am scared that I won’t be as smart as my classmates and won’t fit in with any of the students, who may hail from different backgrounds than my own. I have always had trouble making friends. I always feel like I need to dim down my awkwardness to fit in with other people. But this year, my goal is simple: to work hard and walk into my new classroom with a positive, albeit nervous, attitude.

Here are a couple of ways I try and curb my anxiety when I’m really nervous about undertaking a new adventure. I am hopeful that these tips will help you too.

  1. I prepare

My key to success in any form is prayer and preparation. In my opinion, these two elements share a dovetailing relationship.

If there’s a job interview you’re nervous about, prepare questions ahead of time and ask a friend or family member to have a ‘mock interview’ with you. It’ll make you feel a lot better to have a few standardised replies to specific questions when you’re nervous, as opposed to saying ‘uhm’, or ‘erhh’ every few seconds.

When I am nervous about speaking in front of my classmates, I make sure to memorise my entire presentation by heart. Feeling prepared and ready for action will help sooth your nerves and help you take on any new venture with valour and perseverance!

  1. I pray/meditate

As a Muslim, prayer and gratitude towards God is a big part of my life. When I am scared or anxious, I pray and tell the Lord about my problems. I also enjoy reading the Quran, and specifically the story about Prophet Musa (Moses), for whom God Almighty split the sea. Reading about the power of God restores my faith in Him.

If you’re facing any problem, I would advise you to pray, or meditate. Calm your mind for at least 10 minutes before coming up with a plan of action to address the various difficulties you’re facing. First calm down and clear your mind. A racing, scattered brain can rarely think rationally about any conundrum.

  1. I watch comedy

Laughter is extremely therapeutic. No matter how busy I am, after every two-hour study period, I make sure to relax my mind by watching at least 10 minutes of a stand-up comedy show, or my favourite sitcom. It calms me down.

Try and make time for rest, relaxation, and a little laughter every day. No matter how stressed you are about starting university/college, or how worried you are about starting your new job, or the next grade, or how anxious you are about that big essay you submitted that you’re terrified of failing. Life cannot be all doom, gloom, and sweaty, angst-ridden palms. Make time for a good belly laugh, it’s good for you!

If you never try anything new, or make mistakes, you will effectively remain an unevolved, stagnant version of yourself. So, embrace the scariness of new beginnings. Dip your feet in the icy-cold water, iron your clothes and attend the scary interview, make friends with your new classmates, study hard, work hard, and live!

As former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela once said: “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” So, embrace the scariness of the new ventures you’ll undertake this year and give every challenge you face your absolute best effort. Put yourself out there and fight!


If you enjoyed reading this, you may like to find out what good health means to Asithandile here


Tell us: What are some of the new ventures you have undertaken in 2022? How do you combat any anxiety you may have with respect to these new, unfamiliar situations?