Seeta BhardwaStudent content editor
I’m pretty certain that when you made the decision to go to university, at least one person said to you “it will be the best time of your life”. They’ll tell you that you’ll go on crazy nights out, make heaps of friends and have more fun than you’ve ever had. Ever.
But what if this doesn’t happen? What if you end up making only one friend? What if you aren’t going to loads of house parties? What if you aren’t turning up to 9am lectures still drunk from the night before?
This is where it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to do university. If you aren’t downing £1 shots every single night with a big group of pals and partaking in a “friends with benefits” arrangement with that person in your modern poetry seminar, it doesn’t mean that you are doing university wrong.
It probably doesn’t help that every time you open Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat, you’re inundated with images of your friends all dressed up, posing in front of pink walls sipping elaborate cocktails. Or gushing about the new friends they’ve made and how they just “totally get each other”.
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The first thing to remember is that social media is just one version of a person’s reality. Chances are that that girl you went to school with who just posted an image of herself with 10 other girls with the caption “best buds for life” hasn’t even spoken to three of them. Or the guy who’s boasting that he’s been on four dates this week is elaborating ever so slightly.
But when you’re bombarded with these images it can be hard to feel that you’re not doing university right, especially if you’re struggling to make friends or aren’t turning down social invitations left, right and centre. It’s a confusing message that reduces university to a one-dimensional experience.
But remember that you will never know what is going on behind the scenes so don’t linger over these images for too long. Nobody will ever post a picture of the mundane or the ordinary because it just doesn’t feed into the university hype. And remember that university is about so much more than banking drunken stories that you can whip out at the dinner table when you’re middle-aged and reminiscing on your university days.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be #livingyourbestlife for three or four years straight because that isn’t sustainable and the constant upkeep to remain positive and upbeat can have a negative impact on your mental health. It’s easy to think that you have to be the life and soul of the party to fit in, but it’s so much more important to make sure that you are doing university the way that is best for you.
If you are someone who much prefers to stay at home with a good book and a cup of tea it can be tricky to reconcile this experience with the heavily prescribed idea that while at university you should be living your life to the full. Because that’s exactly what you are doing. You’re just doing it in a way that fits in best for you.
The point I’m making is that there is no blueprint to how university should be experienced. It’s important that you shape your three years in the way you want. Figure out what is going to make you the happiest, focus on the education aspect and, if nothing else, you’ll leave university with a degree under your belt in a subject you love.
And if you really, truly are feeling miserable then don’t for a second think that you are alone or that you are the only student to have ever felt this way. Reach out to a close friend or your students’ union, or your GP if the feeling persists. If you’re unhappy with every single aspect of university life then it might be a good idea to chat through your options with someone.
You certainly shouldn’t allow the pressure to have the best time of your life to stop you from having a great time at university.