Graduating, and the “Uni Experience”

by thethreepennyguignol

So, I’m graduating. Which is awesome- I got my degree, after four long years of slogging and hard work and being too embaressed to mention to anyone that I didn’t mean to take a joint degree, actually, and that’s why I’m graduating with a BA in both History AND Journalism. Happy days, is what I’m saying. This is a positive and wonderful time for me, even though this article isn’t quite that

And, during my time at uni, I’ve hashed out a little group of awesome people who I wouldn’t have made it the four years without. But I think it’s worth talking about the fact that my uni life was never, ever even close to the usual “uni experience” I was flogged in high school. And really, it was never going to be.

If you’ve been to uni or are planning to go, you’ve probably been told at some point what the true “uni experience” is. You’ll make friends for life! You’ll be independent for the first time! There’ll be drink and drugs and sex and all kinds of what-have-yous to go along with your newfound adulthood!

For me, personally, my first year at uni was one of the most miserable of my life. I split with my high school boyfriend (as pretty much everyone does), I didn’t get along with my dormmates at all, and I found myself far away from my family and friends and utterly, totally lonely. It sucked. I was extremely depressed, taking substances that were not aiding with that state of mind whatsoever, putting myself in stupidly dangerous situations, and barely scraping through classes.  I was looking around and seeing all these people who’d already adopted tight groups of friends to hit clubs and karaoke nights with, and felt that I was on the outside of all of that. And it hurt. I had a handful of people to spent time with, and some of them eventually became close friends, but I felt that even with them I was just throwing out the facade of being a cool uni kid. I felt like I’d been sold a con, and it sucked.

It took me a full eighteen months of uni life to really start counting people as “friends”- which is not to say that I didn’t meet a lot of cool people during my first year, but rather that I wasn’t making the “friends for life” I’d been promised. If this is what adulthood looked like, I hated it, and I wanted out. I look back at those times now, with a few years betweeeen me and them, and I’m kind of stunned I made it out at all.

I guess the point I’m getting at here is that, if you feel the same way I did, you’re not alone. All the people I eventually ended up with in my little rag-tag group of misfits felt like me at some time or another, and we found each other at the end-up. But the myth that you’ll instantly turn into a social butterfly as soon as you step through those uni doors is a misleading one, and one that really fucked me up for a while because I felt as if I was the odd one out, the only person who couldn’t live to the standards that had been set for me. On the outside looking in. I felt as if I’d missed a trick, failing to live up to what I was meant to be doing as a student. This was meant to be the time of my life, and I could barely get out of bed in the morning and would only go through to the communal kitchen at three in the morning when I knew no-one else would be there.

In short-if you’re coming to university for the first time soon, don’t beat yourself up you don’t immediatley slip into the leaf-kicking, scarf-wearing undergraduates you saw on your prospectus. For most people, university is an enormous change- both in terms of responsibility, and socialising, and your life in general. And yeah, that can make it tough if you’re not the most socially-butterfly-ey type like me. But don’t freak out if you can’t live up to the ever-partying, friends-for-life university stereotype when you first arrive. Halfway through first year, I would have told you that there was no way I would make it through the next three years unscathed, but here I am graduating with a handful of excellent friends to my name. I got the mental health help that I needed, and came to accept the fact that not everybody has to fulfill the student stereotype to get something out of university. And, in retrospect, that has to be some kind of miracle.

Helpful Resources, if you’re going through a hard time:

7 Cups of Tea

Samaritans

Student Minds

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