Raise your hand if before you went to University, somebody said to you that you were going to have the best years of your life. *Raises hand*
For most people, University is their first taste of freedom, the first time that they are fully responsible for themselves. There is nobody to tell you when or what to eat & drink, nobody to tell you to go to bed and nobody to tell you to clean & tidy your room. Sounds perfect, right?! But in addition to the responsibility of making your own decisions comes dealing with the consequences of your decisions. When you have no money left for your weekly shop because you spent it all at the weekend on alcohol or when you went to bed at 4 am only to have to wake up at 7 am for a lecture, there is nobody to blame but yourself.
The student lifestyle is somewhat idealized by the media. The idea of stumbling home drunk from a nightclub at 4 am or having to eat a 60p pot noodle for dinner because that is all you can afford are brushed off as experiences that you will have as a student. However, if you are not a student and were telling your friends and/or family about eating a 60p pot noodle for dinner, they would instantly be worried about you. But it is okay because you are student?!
I never really fit into that lifestyle. Whilst others were growing up and finding themselves in University, I had already grown up. I already knew how to cook basic meals for myself and how to use household appliances like the hoover and washing machine. I knew how to budget my money so I could afford my lifestyle and I even had a part-time job to subsidize my spending. Even though I was one of the youngest on my course, I somehow felt like one of the eldest. Graduating from University, I felt like I had failed the University experience because I did not come out with life-long friends and memories of nights out that I would tell for years to come at dinner parties. Instead, I just came out of University with a degree.
My mental health was at its worst during my years at University. I suffered and still suffer from anxiety and depression, but they have never been as prevalent as they were during those years. The stress of the constant exams and coursework as well as the added pressure that I placed on myself to be the best overwhelmed me and I ended up being placed on medication and having weekly therapy sessions.
Having been out of University for two years now, I can say with confidence that the years since graduating from University have been better than the years spent at University. I do not thrive in full-time education and that is okay. It is okay to find ‘your people’ after University and to thrive whilst working full-time. It is okay to be happiest when can buy that overpriced donut and be in bed by 10pm. But at the same time, it is okay if University is the best years of your life.
How was your University experience?