It’s the question every university student will ask themselves at some point: ‘did I make the right choice?’ That one question will open the door to a whole host of others, spiraling out of control until you’re questioning your future, your degree, and your general existence. Everyone will have moments like this, but knowing you’re not alone won’t always help. There are better ways to deal with an existential crisis, which are very effective for their simplicity.
First off, don’t deprive yourself of guilty pleasures. Yes, your budget is tight, but it’s unlikely that one Starbucks will end up with destitution. Denying yourself a little bit of happiness can have a huge impact on your overall mentality, so treat yourself and break your usual routine. Simple things such as exploring somewhere new or finding a cheap student night can make a large difference. It doesn’t have to break the bank, but should break the monotonous cycle you can find yourself in.
On the other hand, don’t overindulge. Sometimes freedom goes to your head – with so much to experience you feel you have to do it all. Relax, you have plenty of time to experience everything. First year might be for ‘finding yourself’ but it sets a precedent for the rest of your studies. You don’t want to lose focus early on. Sometimes the workload seems too much for one person so, and everyone’s guilty of this, you’ll ignore it in the hopes it goes away. I’m sorry to say it won’t. You need to break the workload down into more manageable pieces. That mountain of coursework you were stressing over will become a lot less daunting when you realise you can take it one step at a time rather than tackling it all at once.
Most importantly, remember that you fought to get where you are, at the university you wanted. No matter which route you took, you worked hard to get the grades that you needed and you were proud of yourself for achieving it. Before that you spent time and effort to find the universities that appealed most to you, then you might have visited them to be sure you could see yourself there for the next few years. So, remember, this is what you chose when deciding your future. You wanted it, fought for it, and you finally got it.
It might sound ridiculous when you have university work, but you need to keep busy. You might feel as though you never get a spare moment but, honestly, how busy are you, really? Are you actually busy, or are you doing anything just to put off your actual responsibilities? Eventually you’ll feel that you’re not constantly busy so you’re not doing anything with your life overall, which isn’t true. You don’t need to be constantly working, a night off can be good for you, but you’ll need to feel like you’re doing something or have an event to look forward to. Join a society, organise a weekly event, treat yourself to a night out for finishing a piece of coursework; do something that interests you. You’ll be busier and you will have something to look forward to beyond your deadlines.
The answer to this conundrum is often balance. Being at either end of the spectrum is going to tip you over the edge eventually. So treat yourself but don’t overindulge, and study for exams but don’t forget you need to sleep. However, if you’re still struggling to remember why you chose university, help is available and can be found both on campus and off. I also recommend you do careful online research (I highly recommend Student Minds) or visit your university’s pastoral care center to find more details about where help can be found and the steps to take in reaching out.
So take a breath, sort out your priorities and think of the bigger picture.
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