Something I have noticed that many student bloggers do, and I am very much including myself in this, is to write short and snappy articles outlining how you solve ‘x’ problem; ’10 Tips for X’ etc etc.
Now, I’m certainly not about to advocate the doing away with such content. It’s quick and easy to read, digest, and from personal experience I know that it can often be quite helpful – before starting university I read a lot of ‘Top Tips for Freshers’ guides and they helped me feel a little less nervous.
However, today I want to address something which can’t be solved in a round 400 words, something which I wish people had said to me before I started uni.
And that is that university is hard. Like, really hard sometimes.
Perhaps you think this shouldn’t come as a surprise, we all know that universities are places of academic rigor (or at least they should be) and so we can’t expect it to be plain sailing all the time. However, the problem is that we are sold an image of university which is something like this:
[Picture] “A sunny field under a blue sky, groups of students laughing and carefree – more often than not, not looking at the books which lie open in middle of their circle of friends.”
[Picture again if you will] “A serious looking student sitting in a well-lit library. They are clearly working hard but their face is a picture of health – no bags under the eyes here”.
And sometimes university is like this. Often it is fun and you are surrounded by your friends for much of the time, and studying a subject you love is fulfilling.
Sometimes it is stressful and can feel like you’re knocking your head against a wall. Sometimes despite your hard work you don’t do as well as you wanted to in a class. Sometimes things going on at home or in your social life can take over and distract you from your goals.
I’m writing this because this is what happened to me last year. There were things going on at home, one of my parents was very ill, I was making poor decisions when trying to balance my social life and studies – all of which was compounded by the fact that I had high academic expectations of myself and felt that others did too.
This is not to say that I didn’t have any good times second year. I had some really amazing experiences and memories I will treasure for a life time, but I was also stressed and unhappy for a lot of it. Being home for the summer has allowed me to take a step back, catch my breath and reflect on what went on.
I can see now that a lot of the time I was making myself stressed… because I was stressed? Whenever anything became difficult or didn’t turn out as I hoped, I turned it into a reason that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t a good student, rather than just seeing it as a natural setback that happens to everyone.
Talking to other people I have heard lots of similar stories. We all imagine that everyone else is finding things easier than us. That we are somehow uniquely deficient when it comes to the things that we want to be good at.
So, in summary, there is no easy answer to this. I’m still working it out for myself. But I think it’s good for students to know that it’s ok for things to not always be ok. Sometimes uni will be difficult and you will be stressed, but everyone else is feeling the same.
University is hard sometimes, but also, sometimes it’s bloomin’ amazing – and at the end of the day I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
(Here’s a really great video by the vlogger, Lucy Moon, addressing similar issues)