Mind Over Matter

Anxiety. Its a nasty thing isn’t it? You don’t want to leave your house, you overthink your grades, you’re extremely worried about the future, you get a WhatsApp from that one person and before opening it you already think you’re in trouble. Sound familiar? It definitely describes a lot about me and what I go through too.


I remember my first year of university. I was studying at the University of Essex and I had a philosophy essay to submit. I submitted it and three weeks later everyone but me got their results back. I asked my seminar leader why I hadn’t received mine and she said “I’m afraid you plagiarized”. Me? Plagiarize? The worst I had ever done was cheat with my class mates on class tests in like grade seven! I confided in my boyfriend at the time and I was in tears. I remember saying “I know I didn’t plagiarize, maybe I didn’t reference well enough but how can I plagiarize especially on a topic I’m so comfortable with?” – He told me not to worry that it’s probably nothing and I should go for my meeting with the exam board then we’d take it from there.

Wow that was a hectic day. I was in the elevator heading up to the room my meeting was set to be in and I remember wanting to just pass out. My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty and all I could think of is being kicked out of university AFTER GOING THROUGH CLEARING! I got in to the meeting room and I kid you not, I was preparing for the absolute worst. The examiner printed out my essay and highlighted a long paragraph saying “You see this paragraph here Laila? You lifted all of this from a student at the New College of Humanities (NCH)”. Lol, I wanted to start praising God there and then and i’ll tell you why shortly.

He went on to explain what the sanctions were, stating all sorts that I wasn’t even listening to because I’d actually plagiarized MY OWN WORK and I couldn’t wait to tell him. I interrupted him and I told him I had applied to the New College of the Humanities in sixth form and as it is a private university you don’t apply through UCAS, which is the usual system for British universities. The university requests two essays of your own before accepting you and the essay that I used to form my essay at Essex was the essay I had written for my application at NCH. In shock, he said, well I can’t really fault you for “plagiarizing your own work”, plus I’m sure you didn’t know that the essay you showed them with your application would still be traceable. By the way, I also explained to him that I got an unconditional offer from NCH (just to show off to him and show him that I’ve got brains) and that I chose to go through clearing as I wanted the full university experience (which is actually true).

Moral of the story here? If you’re confident about something, don’t let it overrule your mind. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Take everything a step at a time and understand that sometimes, even your excellence can have people doubting you and questioning you. Anxiety is not a choice, but it can be relieved by focusing on “mind over matter”. Life will always have its ups and downs but believe in yourself above all – we are all capable!


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