Why I’m Struggling With University

It’s hard to admit that you don’t enjoy an establishment that is marketed as a validation of your intelligence, and the only ticket to a good life.

To me, university was always built up to be this amazing experience that would enrich my learning.

The truth of the matter is that I’m not enjoying it. And it really is freeing to admit that.

I looked on it not only as a further fundamental step in my education, but as a whole new life. No wonder it has not met my absurdly high expectations.

I do love my university as a place — it is absolutely gorgeous. The University of Western Australia has beautiful grounds, amazing buildings and little niche spots that you only find by being here. Out of all the universities in WA that I looked at, it was the only one that inspired me. And it still does, to be fair. But not in a way that makes me want to study… It inspires me to write mostly. I have a notebook that I carry around and scribble in like a raving lunatic, and that’s lovely, but it certainly doesn’t lead to passing grades.

I have been thinking about why I’m not enjoying university, and I think it comes down to a lot of things.

Firstly, it is described to us when we are younger as an essential step in reaching our full potential in life. We are made to feel that we need to go to university and study something just to prove our worthiness or our own intelligence. For me, that led to me jumping head first into a course that I don’t particularly enjoy.

I wanted to become a teacher, but once my ATAR came back as higher than anyone expected for me (because for the amount of work I did and for how much care I put into my work, my ATAR should have been half what I got) people around me pressured me to change my mind to something seen as more important by society. Law, for example.

I don’t know if you know me very well, but I would not suit law in the slightest. I also would not suit psychology, which was also suggested to me.

I don’t like the idea that your achievement or the importance of your contribution to the world is directly equivalent to your wage, or how hard your university degree was.

In the end, I settled for a double major in Politics and International Relations/Communications and Media. To be honest, I’m not really enjoying it. I dread class, rather than look forward to it. And as much as people say that you can change courses as much as you like in your first year, $3000 is a lot of money to waste in just one semester.

When I picture myself in the future, I don’t see any particular career standing out to me. I don’t want a life based on a black and white career. I want to travel and be happy and do something I love, not for money but just because I want to. I think that is why I make YouTube videos and blog posts – because in some way I hope that that could end up being my future. Impossible goals, I know.

Another reason I think I’m struggling is because I was one of the many people who grew up thinking that they were special, and oh-so intelligent – because that’s what people told me as a child! To be suddenly thrust into the position of being the teeny tiny fish in a big ocean is petrifying! It’s really set me back a bit, which may sound absolutely ridiculous and privileged but it’s still how I feel.

Thirdly, I never studied or worked much during school and I was lucky that this didn’t affect me at all really. I read through the textbook before an exam and could remember most, and BS the rest…. and I ended up doing pretty well when I graduated. I got an ATAR score of 93.5 which isn’t amazing but it is more than I deserved with the amount of work I put in. (For those not in WA, an ATAR of 93.5 means that I scored in the top 6.5% of the state). Because of this, I never learned my lesson. I never had that ‘oh crap’ moment where you realise that you can’t just skate by in life without putting work in. So, I have no study skills whatsoever.

Linking in with this is the fact that I am the self-appointed queen of procrastination. I can waste a week staring at the walls rather than get down to study… so I’m being left behind at uni (entirely my own fault, I know!).

As well as the study, university has a big aspect of partying. I’m not a homebody, but I definitely don’t enjoy parties. As someone with anxiety, they make me very nervous, especially if the people I’m with are all drunk. I have only been to one party that I genuinely enjoyed. All of the others have made me nervous. At university, parties are on a much bigger scale. A rave I went to with a bunch of friends was so hectic that I had a panic attack (which is very rare for me). And that’s just a crappy feeling that I don’t want to have. I’m lucky that I had one lovely friend who came and looked after me!

Ultimately, it’s hard to fully invest myself into university because deep down I know it’s not really what I want to be doing. I want to be travelling, and enjoying my life, because I don’t want to die only knowing education from within four walls – I want to learn from the real world, and I want to be helping people and making a difference in others’ lives. I don’t feel like I’m doing that where I am.

I don’t know what I will end up doing. I may drop out, or defer, or just suck it up and finish the course. I don’t know.

But I know that what I need to do is do what makes me happy. It’s the time to kind of say to hell with what other people want me to do with my life, because I know that they mean the best, but I’m the only one who can decide for me.

P.S. I am not unhappy or anything – I don’t enjoy university, but I’m still doing fine in life, this is just me venting, rather than me breaking down!

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Goodbye Rut, Old Friend

For the past couple of months, I have felt like I’m stuck in a rut. It’s a rut of my own making, without a doubt, but one that is hard to look at objectively as a means of changing my ways and getting out of it.

I’m not someone who glorifies high school days. At all. I had some good friends and good times, absolutely:

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But I also had a lot of unnecessary drama and focus on things that I felt weren’t what I wanted to be doing or thinking about. Because of my disinterest in the freaky micro-society that is high school, I really looked forward to graduation. I had big plans. I was going places, kid. 

But then I graduated and I had a very long break. It was filled with the same old drama of high school, as well as a job I really didn’t enjoy. After all my ideas of travel and adventure, I was feeling pretty dejected with the reality of time away from school. 

After such a reliance on the stability of scheduling of high school, I found it really difficult to deal with the abundance of free time I suddenly had. I quickly became overwhelmed with the feeling that I should be doing something much more than I was doing. I jumped from one idea to another, never settling on one or generally calming down.

Needless to say, I felt pretty crappy. 

Paired with this was the inevitable changes in friendship as we all went our separate ways after high school. People that I had compartmentalised in my head as being particular ‘types’ of people were quite quickly evolving into different versions of themselves. Think Pokemon, but much less fighting in bushes. That kind of change is not only inevitable, but really healthy — you’re not a stationary person and nor is your personality; growth means changes, it is to be expected. But it still really threw me for a loop. I didn’t know how I was supposed to act in their ‘new’ world, and as much as I wanted out of high school, I was scared of change when it really came down to it.

I stopped sleeping well, I ate terrible food, never exercised and didn’t do anything to help myself grow. Essentially, I gave into my fears. 

These were the effects of my personal rut, and served to deepen it as well. 

Without sleep, I wasn’t operating to the best of my ability. By jamming junk food down my throat, I was making myself feel bad and losing my self confidence. This wasn’t helped by a lack of exercise. I actually really enjoy sport and running and especially walking along the beach. I am so uncoordinated, so my love for it doesn’t show, but it exists, I promise! Exercise is one of the most important things you can do, for mental and physical health. As a consequence of slacking off on exercise, I gained weight and stopped feeling good. 

I also found myself saying no to a lot more. I went from a resounding ‘yes’ person to someone who made excuses not to attend things just because I would let myself think too much about the potential negatives of every situation.

Now, I’m on a warpath. A warpath to happiness. Mmm, I don’t know if that works but it’s too late, I’m on it.

I still don’t feel tired until 2am but I’m trying much harder to sleep better. Already I feel the improvements. Although I find it impossible to wake up early, I’m always thankful when I do. I feel like I miss so much of the day when I sleep in. I like being able to go for a nice early walk or read a book outside. I’m slowly forcing myself to become a morning person rather than the night owl that comes naturally to me.

I’m trying really hard to eat better food. I’ll never be that amazing person who eschews all junk food and only eats healthy food straight from the ground. But I’m definitely improving my eating habits. I snack less now, and when I do snack I try to have it be with healthy foods. I have a newfound love of sultanas, greek yoghurt and fruit. I have been chain eating fruit lately. I do feel much better with it. I cooked dinner tonight (which, if you knew me, is an amazing feat. I’ve never cooked in my life. Fried eggs are the most you will get from me). It was Aubergine Rolls, which is a recipe I got from Lady Smart’s blog. I actually loved it. I have always loved spinach and ricotta together, and I wasn’t disappointed. It felt really good being able to eat something that I had made myself that didn’t make me feel sluggish. 

I’m starting to exercise more. I’ve been going on long walks because I’m lucky enough to live near the beach. I walked 16.5km the other night and got to watch the sunset, which was lovely. I take my dog for smaller walks because he’s just as lazy as me, and if I walk him too far he makes me carry him home. Honestly, he stops and just jumps at my arms until I pick him up. I coddle him, I know. I’ll start jogging and running more soon. I am easing my way into it. I’m also coaching a basketball team, and the trainings keep me pretty active. 

I’m saying yes to more things. Some have been great, like coaching the team and going to some parties I’ve really enjoyed and meeting new people. Some have been not so great, like crappy parties and awkward dinners. But it’s been really nice to be able to say that I didn’t enjoy something but gave it a go. 

I’m also not putting as much pressure on myself. I don’t know if university will end up being my niche, as I really want to travel. I don’t know if I’ll ever write a book, or publish a magazine, or have a successful blog. I’ll just try, and see what happens. 

I’m not expecting crazy changes, and there are a lot of parts of me that I wouldn’t want to change. But life is being the best person you can be. It’s improving myself confidence by allowing myself to be happy.

A life lived with no achievement other than happiness is a life lived well. 

It’s calming. 

I hope that you guys are liking life as well! 

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I sure am.

Mapping Out My Life

There must be more to life.

You go through childhood wishing to be older. You are insatiable, craving knowledge but being rebuffed and belittled at every turn. You’re forced to learn manners and slowly, bit by bit, you are transformed into a socially-acceptable human. You are torn away from the thrill of pure instinct and the curious gleam in your eye is lost as everything you wonder about it given a name, a label, a prescribed way to be. 

And then to your parents horror, you go through puberty. You are awkward and gawky and you eat too much. But you don’t eat enough. You stress too much but you don’t stress enough. You can never, ever please anyone completely. There is always something wrong. You just want a hug but you fight anyone who comes close. Your parents think they are losing you to rebellion and everyone else thinks you’re a loser. 

You can’t concentrate in class because what is the point? You’ll never be the best. You’re mediocre, as is everyone else. You feel alone. You drown your sorrows in a haze of embarrassment and you bury yourself in music. You fall in love with fictional protagonists to escape the real world antagonists – bitches. You bitch about the bitches who bitched about you. It’s a vicious cycle. 

And then you graduate high school, thinking that it is the be all and end all, but now you’re flailing in reality. It’s a big world out there, kiddo. And whether you put it off a year, go to university straight away, or never go at all, you end up in the same place – working a full time job that you hate. But it’s better than going home. 

Whether there is someone waiting for you at home or not, you’re alone. Somehow in between the mindless hours of work, your life slips by. 15 years later, you’ve got a few promotions under your belt but life hasn’t reached new heights. You are married now and you can’t remember what the words ‘passion’ and ‘love’ mean anymore,. You cheat or they cheat but you stay together because it’s a pattern and it’s easier than the effort it takes to leave. Then you have kids who you struggle to understand even though they are only going to do the same old stuff that you did.

There must be more to life.

That’s why I find it difficult to suddenly decide what I want to apply for at university. I don’t want to map my whole life out with my choice because I don’t want my life to be predictable enough to map. 

I want to live day by day, year by year. 

I want to travel and love and write. I want to change my mind and change my job and be able to be my own person. 

And yet with all that I know about myself, I don’t know what I want.