Overwhelm is one of the great fears hidden in the human unconscious. It arises when goals are vaguely defined and the future looks uncertain.
An easy way to get rid of overwhelm is to define the goals and the future. This is the foundation for religious fundamentalism: there’s no reason to fear death if you have a very clear picture of what Heaven looks like. It’s an easy out for denying climate science too: It’s easier to believe nothing’s wrong than to know that the planet is on an inevitable path towards destruction. If college is overwhelming, the easiest thing to do is drop out.
Yes, these easy ways feel good in the short run, but a better way to deal with overwhelm is to act as if.
When Steve Jobs was in his early 20’s he had dreams of starting a business, but no idea how. He got this advice from Noah Bushnell, the founder of Atari:
“There is something indefinable in an entrepreneur, and I saw that in Steve. He was interested not just in engineering, but also the business aspects. I taught him that if you act like you can do something, then it will work. I told him, ‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.'” (p. 55).