Everyone always tell you how university will be such a shaping time in your life. It’s the experience which helps you discover yourself and your place in the world. There is so much emphasis on the university experience.
My three years at university were a real mixed bag. There were incredible memories to be made, times where I almost dropped out, my proudest achievement to date and a diagnosis of depression. It’s safe to say, it was a whirlwind.
I know it isn’t for everyone, but I learnt so much about life and myself at university. Most of which aren’t related to English Literature. However, if you do want to know about the conflict of gender norms in Gothic literature, then feel free to hit me up.
How to live with people you dislike
I didn’t get off to the best start at university. By the time we reached my halls, my makeup was halfway down my cheeks after a glorious panic attack in Burger King. A panic attack in which I tried to carry on eating a burger and told my lovely nanna to f*** off. Not one of my finest moments. Eventually, my mum dragged me out of the car and I started meeting, what I thought would be, my new best friends.
Obviously, we didn’t all become lifelong friends. From bitchy girls who turned against me to a stereotypical rugby lad who made it his mission to terrorise me, I dealt with it all somehow. Or at least I managed to tolerate it.Most of the time, I didn’t deal with it in the most productive way. Usually, I would end up locking myself in my room and crying until I could face them again. Still, I do think that living with all these people, especially the ones I didn’t like, taught me that I wouldn’t be friends with everyone.
Survival skills – check
For most people, university is the first time living away from home and being entirely responsible for themselves. Your mum isn’t there to make sure you have clean clothes. There is nobody to force you to go to lectures. If you don’t do it, it’s not getting done.
It turns out that I was already pretty good at looking after myself at university. I arrived knowing to separate my whites in my washing, being able to make a pretty delicious spag bowl (even if it was always enough for a family of six) and not to put metal in the microwave! All thanks to my mum, who treated my sister and I like her housekeepers. She helped to prepare me for living alone!
Although, having the skills to live alone didn’t stop me leaving my dishes for a week before I washed them up….
To stick out the tough times
Whilst being terrorised by my flatmates and feeling more homesick than I had ever in my life, my depression developed. I felt so lost and struggled to cope at university. It was really tough for me; meeting new people, a more intense workload and feeling like I wasn’t smart enough.
I would skip lectures to lie in my bed in the dark and talk to nobody. My mum would have to come and collect me late at night after a breakdown over the phone. Starting my reading list felt like climbing a mountain. It got so challenging, that I seriously considered dropping out.
However, I didn’t drop out. Somehow, I managed to drag myself out of the depths of my depression. I got back on top of my work and reading list. Spoke to my university about ways I could cope and make it easier for myself. Started my antidepressants and pushed myself to stay at university. It was one of the hardest things I have had to do. However, it taught me that the most difficult things are often the most worthwhile.
No need to follow the crowd
Oh wow, how cliched is this? At university, I discovered that I really don’t like going ~out out~. Nope, it’s just not for me. I tried to drink myself into an oblivion at pre-drinks to survive another night in a sticky club with the same music. I tried to make myself like it because I didn’t want anyone to think I wasn’t cool.
Eventually, I just stopped caring. I was only going out with my closest friends at this point, who all know I’m a total grandma and really didn’t care. After three years of trying to force myself to like something, I realised that I didn’t have to. I had enough self-worth to not care if it was uncool that I’d rather stay in and watch Netflix.
Looking back, these aren’t things that I could only learn at university. These are life lessons of your early twenties, rather than university. It just so happened that I was at university in my early twenties so this is where I learnt them. It’s not for everyone, but for me, university was an incredible experience which helped to shape who I am and prepare me for future.
Did you go to university? Or not? Let me know what life lessons you learnt in your early twenties.