An Incoherent Ramble of My Ongoing Experience at University: Ups and Downs, Hints and Tips

University is bloody difficult, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Graduates will express love for their experiences while seemingly portraying that university is nothing but an endless, joyful ride.

But that is not true. It’s ok to have moments when you feel rock bottom. But remember to stay positive – look at what you do have, not what you have lost. Remember that going to university itself is incredibly impressive and that no matter where you are in your journey you have already come so far, and everyone is proud of you. Being down or upset won’t change that.

For those who are looking forward to university or who are currently studying, it is, without a doubt, fantastic. I have a great set of friends, all of whom I will hopefully retain for life. I am absolutely loving it, but nonetheless there have been times when I have felt worse than the dog shit in my back garden back at home that has yet to be picked up. It is of equal importance to share those lows as much as the highs, such as the weekend when your mate writes an essay completely wasted and yet still manages to achieve a 2:2 (true story).

University is totally different to what I expected, both for better and for worse. The circumstances I find myself in are almost the opposite to what I envisioned. But even though for all the shit bits, and wanting to move back in time, viewing my life in perspective, I would not change it for the world. Look at the present, aim for the future, don’t dwell on the past.

Positivity fluctuates immensely. I remember lying on my bed, head in my pillow and just weeping, crying for hours, and that wasn’t just in freshers. Even now as I post this blog I still have meltdowns with the overwhelming amount of work that has come before me and the circumstances I find myself in. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to phone your mum countless times a day. You’re allowed to seek help. You are not alone.

Being just over halfway in semester 2 (where has the time gone?!), there are a couple of clear messages that I feel are pivotal to bear in mind when you go off into the next crazy chapter of your life, or as you are currently progressing through university.

Firstly, BE YOURSELF. Do not change to appease others, or attempt to fit in. Trying to be someone you’re not is damn right difficult and inconvenient, and people will know. I’ve been there before, attempting to join in at drinking games pretending to be someone who is the complete opposite to me. I personally prefer coffee, cake and academia, not sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. Stick to what you like, join societies, go to freshers events that interest you. And if you think there is no hope or your confidence is non-existence, give it a go, whether it’s in freshers or halfway through your uni adventure. If you bottle it and burst into tears when you arrive (don’t worry, you won’t be the only one) just remind yourself about how far you have come and everything you have achieved. Just attempting to try something by yourself is damn right daunting.

If you think you won’t make friends, that is not necessarily true! I met one of my future house mates at a board games night at freshers. There is hope! If I can do it, I’m sure you can too.

Secondly, uni is what YOU make it. Join societies, try and get out there. If you do feel down the best thing to do is ram your time with events and meet ups. And on this note I think it’s important to point out about clubbing and drinking. If you don’t like them, don’t feel obliged to follow suit. No one will judge you, and if they say anything just move on. Be yourself, and do what you want to do. I will comment on this issue in a future blog (when I get the time).

Thirdly, don’t aim for a first if it effects your mental well-being and overall experience. So far at university I have found that my results in my essays have surpassed my expectations and therefore took it upon myself to aim for a first. What did this result in? Isolation, loneliness and several mental breakdowns. Yes I would love to gain a first, but after my Aunt stated after a rather distressed phone call, do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself. After all, first year doesn’t count. View your first year as an experiment, do try your best academically but see it as a time to discover yourself and what your interests are, and an opportunity to get out there, meet new people and try new things. Life experience is just as important too. Achieving a first is bloody difficult, and there is a reason why only a few people achieve them. Whatever you do, just enjoy yourself and don’t let your academic aspirations affect your mental well-being. Aiming for a first and the circumstances I found myself in caused me nothing but anxiety (which prior to university I have never experienced), and complete isolation. Be yourself, get out there and enjoy yourself, and this path of having an underlying positive attitude will truly reflect in your academic work (it did for me).

Anyways, stay positive, be yourself and try out new things. It may be daunting, but you must have shit times to make the good times better. But however you feel, please remember that you are not alone; there are mechanisms in place to support you. Speak to family (my mum is basically my counsellor), speak to old friends, and if you are struggling, just see a professional counsellor. Counselling is great (and free – major bonus) and will help you feel better – expressing your problems is the first major step to gaining a healthy outlook. Don’t do what I did and wait two months to finally book an appointment because I thought my problems were minor to those of my peers. Your problems matter too and do not hesitate to seek help.

I’m aware that I have bought up countless issues and instances which are in dire need of further development and analysis, and that this post was rather incoherent and a bit of a ramble (my lecturer would not be impressed). But I just thought a random ramble would provide a useful insight to my current journey at university. But for issues just scroll down my blog feed to see if I have written anything to help you. If there is nothing, comeback another time and hopefully I will have posted something. If you feel especially shit, or maybe even extremely happy, don’t hesitate to email me. I’ve gone, like all who attend university, on a fanatic rollercoaster on ups and downs; how you feel is probably how I have once felt/currently feel.

In the meantime, stay positive. Stay healthy. And most importantly, you are not alone and just be yourself! And remember that university only happens once, get out there and have a damn right good time.

Oh and if I have just completely destroyed your appetite for uni, just remember that on the whole, I – and most people in fact – love it. Everyone says how bad first year is compared to the subsequent years. If I listed all the good times too, this blog would be a book composed of several volumes. I would not change my journey for the world. But yes, it is a damn right struggle at times but just stay positive and as I have been informed, second year is much better.

There are of course some people who love every minute of university and the experience it brings! They’re the lucky ones…!

Thanks for the read and stay positive (hope it wasn’t too boring or lacklustre)

Jacob

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