6 Things I Wish I'd Known as a Fresher

Sitting in the ASS, there is a rising hysteria from the surrounding MacBook army. Final deadlines are approaching and, alongside the workload panic, it’s got me (in typical English-student style) feeling quite nostalgic. So, instead of sitting here thinking about something pointless, I want to put my brain to more practical use and share what I wish I'd known when I was a fresher. 

Disclaimer: there is mild sex and drug content. I hope that’s got you hooked. 

(Photo Credit: Xplode Mag)

1. It's not all going to be amazing

Before coming to Uni, we are repeatedly told that these will be "the best years of your life." It led me, as a naive eighteen year old, to come here with a glowing, and rather static, vision of what it was going to be like, which the reality tended to fall short of. This was especially true in first year; because of the great highs, there came the inevitable lows. Perhaps you’ve experienced the lights coming on in Motion at 6am. It's just like that. It's one of the most basic laws of physics: what goes up, must come down. In first and second year, I felt, at times, tired, anxious, and homesick. At first I thought this meant I had failed - wasn’t I meant to be having the best time of my life? But what I realised is that these feelings are more common than you think, some people are just better at hiding it. 

2. Social media is toxic

Don’t compare yourself to others. Photos go hand in hand with that rose-tinted fantasy people create to show the world how well they are doing. Just because you don't have as many pictures to upload to Facebook or Instagram, doesn't mean you're not having as much fun as everyone else. Try to ignore the FOMO, and think instead about all the times you've enjoyed yourself, but have been too busy to take a picture. See? You're fine. 

3. Don't worry about sex and relationships - particularly virginity

This next issue is quite personal, but when I first came to Uni I had never had a boyfriend, was a virgin, and had this persistent fear that I would be massively judged if people found out. Eventually, I ended up losing my virginity to my current boyfriend and am so glad I waited, instead of drunkenly jumping in bed with someone random in an attempt to lose those flipping v-plates. Boys worth your time will not care. When I was younger it seemed like such a massive deal, but I still have friends in third year who have never had sex. Women should not be defined in terms of their sexual experience, and retrospectively, it infuriates me that I let these ridiculous sexist views define how I perceived myself. It’s your body, you can do what you want with it.

 

(Image credit: Leeds Uni)

4. Your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of

Mental health issues among our age group and in the stressful University environment are a lot more common than you might think. I have seen a surprising amount of my friends suffer because they refused to admit they have a problem. It’s important to be aware of yourself and your mood, and recognise if you are just having a bad day, or whether a culmination of low days could be a reflection of something more serious. And if it is, there is no shame in going to a friend, or even asking to see a counsellor.

5. Don't stress about who you make friends with

Don’t worry if you don’t immediately fall into the perfect "group." Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sitcom set up, and it really is pointless surrounding yourself with people who you only mildly like, for the sake of being "in a group." When you are having a rough night, it is unlikely that group will stick around, mops in hand, ready to get to work on your chunder with a rallying heigh-ho. Real friends will, and sometimes finding them and building strong bonds takes time.

6. Finding a job is not the be-all and end-all

The main worry for me and my friends at the moment is heading towards that ominous horizon: Life After Uni. But, even now, most of my friends don’t have their "dream job" lined up, and many still don’t know what they want to do. You won’t be turfed out on graduation day, needing to be 100% sorted, finally at peace with yourself and that third nipple, latté in hand. We are all a work in progress, and are still in the process of becoming. So don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Worrying is natural, but don’t let these thoughts define you. 

So there you have it. Pearls of wisdom from a wise and worldly third year. Now, go forth and change the world.

(Featured Image Credit: Young Minds)