Have you ever seen those ridiculous posts with headlines like ‘Things every student can relate to’, or ‘13 things every final year student will know’? And you click on it, knowing full well it’s ridiculous and won’t apply to you, but you just can’t help seeing what’s apparently the ‘norm’. You want to see if there’s even one thing that applies to you.
The thing is, not one of them ever does or ever will apply to me, and I know that before I even click on them. I know that because I don’t go out and get drunk; I hate it, and I don’t understand the whole drinking culture that seems to have everyone under its spell. I know it because I know how to cook nice meals for myself on a budget, which apparently goes straight over the heads of ‘every student’. I know because I don’t have ‘uni friends’, so no, I don’t know what it’s like to ‘miss my uni friends in the summer and be bored with friends from home’. What I know is missing my friends for 8 months of the year while everyone else seems to be having the time of their lives, while most of my friends have ‘uni friends’ of their own, and I don’t.
Let me guess: I’m exaggerating, surely? I’ve got to have made friends, because doesn’t everyone go to uni and have a great time, meet loads of like-minded people and make at least one friend for life? I used to think that too, but the truth is, no, not everyone does. There are a lot of people in life I could really get on with, just click with, and then there’s a lot of people I just won’t be able to, no matter how nice they might be. Most people meet a steady mix of both throughout life, so every new thing is a new opportunity to meet people they could click with. My problem is, I met a lot of the people I clicked with at college, and then at uni that lucky spell went dry: I’ve met a lot of people I’ve really disliked, and a few I just don’t click with.
What do you do when you just get unlucky? Do you change who you are so you fit in with those you don’t relate to, make yourself click? Join societies and do whatever it takes to find the right people for you? Or do you resign yourself to tiding it through? My entire first year at uni was just me going to uni, doing uni work, watching Star Trek and Quantum Leap, and repeating this each day until going home every weekend. A lot of the time I didn’t talk to anyone all day. So that’s the option I took: I resigned myself to getting through and having a degree to show for three years in this place. It might not have been the best thing for me at times, but I still remain there’s nothing I could’ve done differently. I tried, and I just got unlucky. I tried again, and again. I even came into third year with an amazing determination to try new things and put myself out there again. The fact is everyone’s already got their ‘uni friends’ by now.
Reading back through this so far, I sound pretty pessimistic. I’m not naturally pessimistic; I do like to look for the positives in life, and the moments a lesson can be learned from. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really go into this with an overarching point, I just started writing. But if there’s one thing I would like to come from this, it’s letting other people know the lesson my uni experience has taught me, and it’s a pretty simple one. Life’s not all that great all the time, but what matters is how you handle it. Whether you change yourself, try and try again, or tide it through when you just get unlucky, think about who it makes you as a person, and whether you like that person. All you really need when you get unlucky is to have the confidence to look at yourself objectively and still see a way through. If you’re at a point where you’ve been lucky, as I was in college, recognise it. Don’t take it for granted; don’t think you’re only on cloud 8 and there’s a cloud 9 waiting around the corner for you, because you might well be on cloud 9 already.
…And for god’s sake, don’t listen to anyone who tells you uni or any other point will be the time of your life, because they’re the same people who write the ridiculous stereotyped posts that ‘everyone’ can apparently relate to!