If I had to characterize my university experience in just one word, it would be “solitary.” That’s not exactly the same thing as “lonely,” although it sometimes is. I’m an introvert, so most of the time, I don’t mind being alone as long as I’m doing something, which I almost always am. Many of the things I choose to do are just for me, but I’ve never felt more alone in a crowd than in the past months. I’ve never felt so out of touch and excluded from human interactions.
University has been hard; it’s not just academically demanding (although that alone is more than enough to deal with; I can’t believe I thought I was busy in high school), but also emotionally taxing. It doesn’t help that I’ve never been a very emotionally stable person. I crave a certainty that is often impossible. The change really rocked me because for the first time in six years, I didn’t have my solid friend base around me anymore. Making friends is so much harder at an older age, especially for a commuter who’s also an introvert in one of the largest university campuses. I’m trying very hard not to be a victim of circumstance but the truth is that interpersonal connections take a lot more time to develop for some people, and it’s not nearly as easy as just joining extra-curriculars and showing up to events.
I think by the end of November, every student has had at least one breakdown, one of those I-don’t-care-I-have-no-motivation-everything-is-pointless-why-too-much-work-hard-life-need-money moments. Stress is very real, and exhaustion is tangible. There is so much pressure to keep on top of everything, to be fit and join this and that and not be a loner. There’s also the pressure of choosing what to major in and how to make money and what to do with life. Adults often underestimate how difficult it is for students now; it’s not just about maintaining a good GPA to get a Bachelor’s Degree and guarantee yourself a job in four years. Competition is crazy for every field and it will take much more than even a Master’s Degree to get anywhere that’s not a trade (extra-curricular involvement, leadership skills, writing/communication skills, etc.). Even at 17 or 18 years old, it is so hard to not get bogged down by that reality and fall into thought distortions.
Things I learned to keep in mind:
- It’s okay if you miss the train. Another one will be along sooner than you think.
- Always go for it, even if you don’t feel ready or capable. You’ll learn to step up along the way.
- Keeping busy makes the days (and life) seem longer. That’s good.
- Slow days are necessary too.
- Don’t compare to everyone else. It’s okay to not always be the best.
- Keep a budget. And stick to it…
- Appreciate the good things and feel lucky for the people in your life.
- Everything (relationships, exercise, etc.) is possible with effort.
Things I did not successfully accomplish:
- 5 university courses (dropped one)
- NaNoWriMo (too far behind to admit; at least I wrote something!)
- Maintain a social life
- Sleep 8 hours a night
- Stick to a budget. At all.
- Not have a breakdown every week
- Not lose marks unnecessarily
- Maintain at least B’s on all assignments
- Be satisfied with every assignment I hand in
- Not procrastinate
- Be on time…
Things I did do:
- Get my semicolon tattoo
- Had a good time at a pub
- Played a lot of Werewolf
- Volunteered at Word on the Street & Victoria College Book Sale
- Volunteer at Caffiends Coffee Shop
- Read 6 books for fun
- Varsity (copy-editing & writing x3 articles)
- Dance (Contemporary/ballet & Jazz/rumba)
- Knitting/crochet club (total count: 3 scarves, 1 hat, 2 pair of mittens)
- Kept a food diary for 2 months and ate healthier
- Indoor soccer
- Winterfest Committee member
- Kept to a basic Skype schedule with some friends
- Managed this blog
I’ve loved the freedom and independence of university, and how every day is different. I love everything that I do and what I’ve accomplished. I love my wonderful friends who will Skype me at 2:00AM when I’m having an especially bad night. If fog happiness is all we can hope for, I think I’ve managed that much. The accomplishments outweigh the failures on a basic level. As for everything else, it’ll take time. And that’s alright.
It’s been three months since I’ve started this blog and I’m still surprised every time someone mentions reading it. Most of these posts originated from drafts from my private journals and I know many of the things I’m just realizing are things that adults have discovered for themselves long ago. Although the material may not always be groundbreaking, I find that every person brings a new nuance to the same lessons. If just one person has stopped to ponder over my writing for even a minute, I’ve done my job. Thank you all and Happy Holidays!