Today I’m going to speak about something that has pretty much changed me completely in the last couple of years. Not enjoying university. This is quite personal to me and while I don’t mind speaking about it, I am aware that there are always going to be people that just can’t understand the impact of what’s happened.
Looking back, I didn’t quite consider how much of a leap leaving school was: 2010 was probably the happiest year of my life up until September. Then, although I was going to uni locally in Liverpool, I took the attitude of ‘obviously I’m not living at home during uni, partaaaayyyy’ and moved my little self over into halls. My room was lovely, in fact the flat was really nice for student halls. The problems started when freshers actually got going, and I realised I was completely and utterly not fitting into student life.
I still had my old job (I can’t survive on student loan alone!) and so was coming back over to the flat late some nights. On nights when I’d come back at 1am, all I would want to do was sleep, but music would be blaring and a flat filled with smoke would await me. They were nice people, don’t get me wrong (and at least their music taste was good) but I spent many a night in my room alone wondering why I wasn’t the same as everybody else.
Watching friends uploading hundreds of photos and chatting about all their new best friends (‘OMG, we just click you know, we have so much in common, she’s amazing’) and wondering why I wasn’t as excited as everybody else about…well, anything. To make it twice as bad, the fact that I do a Combined course at uni meant everybody in each subject was already grouped off and despite my shyness, I really put myself out there trying to speak to people. Each time, I was rebuffed and never saw them again.
To cut the ramble, it culminated in me feeling down all the time. I literally couldn’t pick myself up – even the course wasn’t, and still isn’t, what I expected – and eventually, the worst of it came when I sat in my room, with one of my best friends at the time, and just cried without knowing why (he felt awkward to say the least). I made the decision to move back home. It was so hard, mainly because I didn’t want to seem like a failure in comparison to all my friends that were loving it, but also not to burden my family. A lot of people will say this is bad, that I should have stuck it out but for me, this was the right decision. Even when I moved home, my depression continued for a good few months and the amount of times I went into my mums bedroom, lay on the bed and just cried were numerous and distressing. I tried not to tell anybody unless I had to, or said it was for money reasons.
I’ve had my sister say to me over and over about how I’m a failure and I can’t cope with ‘normal’ things. But fortunately, most people have been supportive, even if they can’t understand. People say things like ‘oh I’ve just been really lucky’ or ‘you should have moved into the actual uni halls’ but in hindsight, I think that maybe I was expecting too much and I never would have enjoyed it, and the person who I am now is confident enough to admit that. I just want other people to understand why I feel that way too.
I’ve learned to cope, and although I don’t enjoy uni loads still, I have people in my lectures that I can speak to and get on with. Some amazing friends outside of uni, people I work with and people that understand what I’m going through have helped me so much through this. Having one of my closest friends come home really helped me to accept that it’s okay not to have the typical student experience. Similarly, when I met another friend a few months ago, it was great to show her that it’s okay not to settle in straight away and it helped me to come to terms with it myself.
I take things week by week and always make plans (I used to like being alone and chilling: a side effect has meant that if I don’t have plans for a day, I feel down and scared all over again). Enjoy the things that you have – I am lucky enough to not do long-distance with my boyfriend, which some other people find really hard. Sometimes I do wish that I’d had the same incredible experiences as others but there’s always a silver lining and while third year is going so fast that I’m scared to go into adult life, I’m hoping my time after uni will be a much happier stage of my life.