Normally, I just post light-hearted things and never go particular ‘deep’ in terms of topic I write about. But today, I decided to write about something that isn’t going to be particularly upbeat, but one that I hope will help others that are in the position I was a few years back.
If your school was anything like mine, University was what most people went on to do and it was considered by teachers the be all and end all of choice we could, or should, make with our lives. Anyone else have those assemblies where they have a powerpoint slide saying how much more money you would make having a degree? Yeah, lots of those! I believed my teachers that this was the best decision to make and thought, yep, that’s what I’m going to do. I worked my butt off during GCSEs and A-Levels and got into the University of my choice and doing the course I wanted. I thought this was great initially and was really excited to start.
On the day I went up to University, I cried all day. I’d never been away for home for that long and I was homesick before I even left my house. This is probably normal, or I think it shouldn’t be strange for it to be a scary move to make. But, this feeling never went away. I tried to ingore this feeling and try to get involved in things at uni, but something just didn’t fit. I didn’t make friends on my course and sitting in lectures by myself was really tough. Anytime anyone mentioned the words “Group Work” during a lecture, the panic set in and if I could I left as I worried no one invited me to join their group and I was too anxious to ask. If I did have to stay, normally some nice person would invite me in their group, and it was fine. But, I always felt awkward, like a Billy no mates. I did get along with my flatmates, but they all did other courses and sat in design studios most of the time, so I spent a lot of time alone in the flat too. I went home as often as I could, which maybe didn’t help, but the loneliness was unbearable. All my flatmates went home at the weekends too, so I felt going home too was the only option.
I didn’t tell anyone how I felt during my first year, and it wasn’t until my Mum picked me up on the last day of the year when I broke down into tears and told her I hated it. At this point, she told me to transfer to another uni, but the fear of change was something I just couldn’t bear the thought of. In hindsight, I should have listened. The loneliness continued and I fell into depression. It was horrible to feel this way, but the anxiety made me too frightened to do something about it. Second year was the worst. I felt the tunnel was just too long to face and I felt so hopeless. Third year was slightly better as it felt like I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I got my head down and did my best. However, one of the worst experiences during University was being sat in a lecture during third year and asked to do group work. My anxiety had progressively gotten worse over the years and I couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask to be in someone’s group and I ended up working on my own. It was so awful that I went home and cried afterwards. After this, I started to get panic attacks about having to go into University, so I started not attending lectures. I’d sit in the house, in my room for days on end without saying a word to anyone. I was left out of activites with flatmates and it was generally pretty pants.
I stayed and battled my way through the whole degree and came out with a 2:1. I thought that I would leave University and come out the other side the same person I was when I started and the world would be a bed of roses. But, that didn’t happen. I still have some anxiety and depression on some down days, sometimes it can be so bad getting out of bed is a struggle. I’m working hard to beat it, and I’m getting there now.
My message to anyone suffering from a similar thing to this is you are not alone! At university, I felt like the only one that hated it and that I was strange for being so miserable there. However, hearing some other people’s stories, so many people feel the same way. My advice is if you hate it, leave. Transfer to another university, or another course or think about what else you would want to do. Life is short and spending three years of it being miserable is, and was, not worth it. If I was honest with myself while I was at university, I would thought the only reason I stayed was for my family, because that was the reason. I thought if I left they wouldn’t be proud of me and that they’d think I was a failure. But this wasn’t the case. My family just wanted me to be happy and if you are in the same situation now, I’m sure that’s all your family want for you to! I never made the hard choice and tried something different, but I wish I had, so if you can make that change, I say give it a go. What have you got to lose?
So that’s the end of a slightly depressing post. I hope it helps some of you though, and shows you there is no shame in giving up on something. Do what makes you happy! And the next post will be far more upbeat, I promise you!
Let me know what your university experience was like, good or bad!