EducationYour Stories

Facing the uncertainty of starting university

Coping Strategy

I know that worrying is really a waste of my time but I know, for me, uncertainty can lead to worry anyway. Since my last post, there’s been some uncertain times for me. I started university. The very first challenge I knew I’d have to face was collecting the key and I felt a little unclear of the instructions. So my first tactic to ensure I worried as little as possible, was printing out the key collection slip and times beforehand.

Throughout the journey to university, I did my best to remain positive and unaffected by the prospect of arriving late. My coping strategy was thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It helped put the prospect’s significance into perspective when considering the worst-case scenario. I reviewed my available options for missing the key collection time, and I emailed the accommodation office to double check, confident there was a chance of them responding despite being the weekend. Asking what I do if I missed the key collection times helped me to minimise the uncertainty and worry. I’d done all I could.

Preparation

Having already previously studied at university, I was less nervous this time around. I had a good idea of what to expect with the situations I would be in. The first time I was at university, I wasn’t in the same position. Instead, I was allowing my thoughts to restrict and dictate my actions, as opposed to confidently being myself. What I thought about something became how I saw it, when it wasn’t the reality. With this in mind, I ensured I was comfortable and didn’t restrict and isolate myself like last time. I realised it was me and not others that has resulted in me being isolated each time throughout my life.

Accommodation arrival

I arrived at the accommodation within the collection times and the accommodation office replied. After putting my luggage in my room, my mum and brother encouraged me to claim a cupboard in the kitchen. I felt no pressure to go straight away. Like with anything daunting, I’ve learnt the less you think about it, the less you worry; and the more likely you’ll do it. I made sure I was as calm and comfortable as possible before going. Overcoming and not overthinking any thoughts of not leaving my room.

When I went in, one of my flat mates and their family were already in the kitchen. It helped that I had already met someone and established a friendlier and more familiar status. That way I wouldn’t worry about any future encounters where there would be mutual acknowledgement, but no one familiar. Instead, they’d be more casual, as we now knew who each other were.

First day at university

I looked forward to the first day of University, wanting to start and meet people on my course. I talked to a lot of people on my course (for my standards). It was refreshing to talk about subjects such as philosophy and spirituality with other people in my age group. They are what I most like to talk and think about. Prior to that, I only talked about them with my parents.

Interacting with my course mates made the day enjoyable. Not talking to anyone wouldn’t have helped me settle quickly amongst others. But, through one of my course mates inviting me to sit with them, I experienced no exclusion or isolation. Me acting naturally only extended the enjoyment.

I was happy my first year at university was underway, and the amount of progress I’d already made with people on my course. Having felt like I kept up with everyone else, never straying behind as a result of what I thought about the reality of the situation. Previously at university, I saw people together as already being an established group, so it felt too intimidating to even talk to them. This resulted in me not being in any group, ending up only talking to a few people on my course and feeling uncomfortable in how separate I was, surrounded by the rest of the course. I have experienced separation like that throughout my life but it’s always been uncomfortable, even if I’m more comfortable being uncomfortable on my own than with others.

Overall, I saw the day as a very good benchmark for the quality for the rest of the year. It was nothing but a positive experience, completely unlike any other first day in education I’ve had. I think it’s important to realise how are you is a strength and should never be treated as a weakness. No one should be able to tell you differently. Being different isn’t bad and the way in which you are, is the way you can make a difference. May you all continue to find more comfort in every day.

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