Now settling into my third year at Sheffield, I’ve had time to reflect on my experiences from all aspects of my student life. I’ve realised that just about everyone is fighting their own battles. I look back on the times when I struggled with a situation and think, “Wow, I really managed to pull through that and come out of the other side”, and at the time, I thought I would crumble under the pressure.
We all need a pick-me-up now and again, and it’s good to know that you’re actually doing better than you think you are. For one, you are where you are now because of how much effort you put in. You’re exceptional for getting into university, especially the best university in the UK (I am biased, but still, we are a Russell Group!). There’s always so much pressure to be correct in lectures/seminars – even if you come out with something incorrect, no one will be laughing at you internally. Your fellow classmates are probably thanking you for taking the plunge. An incorrect answer is just as informative as a correct one when learning, and you’re really benefiting yourself and everyone around you.
Moving away from the course itself, uni life in general can feel lonely, isolating, and difficult, and this isn’t helped by others saying these are the ‘best years of your life’. Feeling the pressure to make your uni years fulfilling, rewarding, and exciting all of the time can throw you off. Take a break – realise that you cannot be constantly ‘living life’ to the max, but remember you’ve had so many amazing times too. It’s okay to have some down-time, and it’s okay to not feel guilty about it. Do what feels best in the moment and you’ll find that you’re coping extremely well.
If you’re anything like me, you probably worry about the so-called “essentials” of life outside of the campus – food, clothing, money, social life, etc. Again, there’s no need to conform to ‘expectations’: if you’ve got food in the fridge to make a simple meal (even the numbers of a few takeaways!), warm clothes for winter, a couple of friends you can turn to for support, and money to get a £1 bus to uni – to name a few – you’re doing fabulously.
Allow the ‘adulting’ to come later. University is the time when you can afford to work out who you really are without all of the luxury stuff. Being yourself in the moment, going through whatever emotion you want to, is a sign of coping. So even when you’ve got chipped nails, holey socks and only a bit of bread and cheese left over, you can still make a toastie and get by.
If you find that after a simple reflection, you still think you’re not coping, the university has so much support available to you: SSiD, UHS, the University Counselling Service, personal tutors, and more. Don’t suffer in silence – there are people to help!