Going into my second year, I had a lot of expectations about how my life was going to be. Unfortunately, nothing turned out like I had planned and now I am in the process of accepting and shaping my new life. I decided to write this article to share the best bit of advice I received while going through this difficult time: ‘distraction is the key.’
Although this may seem simple, it has really helped me get through this first term of university. The idea of ‘distraction’ usually comes with negative connotations so I have had to change my perception of the word. It doesn’t mean “don’t do your university work” or “just take your mind of things by watching series after series of Grey’s Anatomy” – although that does help! Instead, it means: “try new things and put yourself out there!”
Now, trust me, I know that this is easier said then done. It is definitely not easy to join a society or club half way through the university term and it can be hard to make new friends in an established group, but it is possible. I was skeptical at first and all I wanted to do was hide away in my room and become invisible, but I realised that this wasn’t going to make me feel any happier. Instead, I had to pick myself up and try to put myself back out there.
I have joined a running club in Falmouth which I attend twice a week and it is amazing how much better I feel after attending. Even when I have had a rubbish day and all I want to do is eat chocolate, I make myself go and I have not yet regretted it. The people there were really kind and helpful. I have been going for 3 weeks now and I already feel more comfortable in their company. So, have a bit of confidence in yourself and go for it. It’s only an hour and if you hate it you never have to go again!
If you don’t feel like running twice a week, join one of the other societies that are part of the university – most clubs are more than happy to let you join in on a session. Don’t be afraid to attend university events as well. Last week I went to the Tremough Follies showcase and had a really good time. It is all about embracing the opportunities that are around you.
University work is another great distraction technique. Even though essays and hours of reading may not be what I would call fun, you’ll be amazed at how many hours you can while away in the library. I have also found that even if you are sitting in the library on your own, you never feel lonely as it is always busy and there is always someone sitting close to you even if you don’t know them. For me, this is better than sitting in my room feeling sorry for myself.
Another easy way to “distract” yourself, is by reconnecting with friends you wish you could have seen more but didn’t have the time to. I have recently reconnected with a really lovely friend who has gone out of her way to make me feel included in her friendship group. It will amaze you how many people don’t realise how sad you are feeling and who are more than willing to help when you talk to them.
Distracting yourself with a job or volunteering is also a great way to get your mind off things and will look fab on your CV. I have a job and working is a great way to make you forget about your day and instead focus on the task at hand.
These are just some distraction techniques that have worked for me and hopefully, if needed, will work for you. The key is not to be hard on yourself when you have had a bad day, just try to make the next day better.
Most importantly, if your year at university has, so far, not met your expectations, remember that you are not alone. It may seem to you like lots of people are sorted in friendship groups and on top of their work, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true. So, have a bit more faith in yourself and put yourself out there. Not only will whatever you’re doing (whether this is swimming, running, baking or anything else) distract you, you might also find some incredible opportunities and meet amazing people. So go on distract yourself, you never know where you might end up.