This piece was written by one of our student publishers. Here’s Sonali on why you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself when life at university goes awry.
University are some of the best years of our lives. They can also be some of the most stressful, and there is many a time where we feel downtrodden. If, like me, you dread your career prospects, feel useless at university, can’t breathe through your nose or feel hopelessly single, you still have things to be proud of.
Our biggest critics are ourselves. Often, we don’t realise how much we’ve accomplished. We are constantly told how much privilege we have, how grateful we should be, how much is given to us. We need to appreciate what we’ve already done in order to move forward.
Currently, clichéd, sage advice might feel like the last thing you need right now. I’m not going to preach, but rather speak from personal experience. I feel like my short stint at university and in the workforce has given me something. So if you’re feeling down and see value in the experiences of an undergraduate finalist, read on for some serious motivation.
1. You got into university
Something I’m consistently told when I find university hard, is “You got into Warwick, you’re smart. You can get out of it.” This is somewhat true, my last two years of secondary school were some of the hardest of my life; I put all of my energy into doing well so that I could get into an amazing university, which I did.
2. You have emerged victorious in the past, you will do so in future.
Celebrate your personal victories, because nobody understands what it took to accomplish them. Whether writing your first article for a new site, unexpectedly getting through to an assessment centre or conquering your fear of heights by bungee jumping, use your current low period to go over your successes. It’ll help you transition into a mindset of wanting to try again, and try harder.
3. You are certainly able to work under pressure
I read a book called Messy by Tim Harford which put my ability to flourish under pressure into perspective. I think about it every time I’m down and after a while it helps me feel better.
Harford’s idea is that we perform better under negative circumstances, or when life is cluttered. Your so-called failures are likely to motivate you to squeeze your best work out of yourself. The book is definitely worth a read if you’d like some perspective on why some failure and pressure is a good thing.
4. You have good friendships in your life
Constantly measuring our successes against academic and career signposts can be destructive. It’s important to reward who we are as people, too. Be proud of your ability to make and upkeep solid friendships and family relations. Being a good listener and managing your relationships is a truly great achievement on a personal level, and can even translate into your future ability to maintain relationships in the workplace.
5. You can teach others about your experiences.
I can’t fully take credit for this last one, which comes from Elite Daily. One recommendation was to ‘turn your mess into a message” when you’re going through a low period.
It seems like a thing to be proud of when you’re going through a low period of your life. Your ability to think of ways to improve your situation is something to be celebrated, and what better way to do that than jotting it down in your blog, for others to see and learn from? This makes you an inspiration!
Lastly, it’s important to define what we mean by “life not going well.” We tend to place all of our goals and achievements on the future, and believe that once we get that grade, or that job, or that masters programme, we’ve done well.
This mindset can be detrimental to your mental health, and can also affect your ability to actually achieve your goals during times where you’re hurt by your “failures”. I use that term loosely, because while you might not have received an internship offer or graduate job, you’re still a functional human being. You’ve got your whole life ahead you, success isn’t time bound.