One year into university life and I can safely say it’s been a year like no other.
This time last year, with my A-Levels cancelled, I was sat home waiting for the green light from my dream university to study my dream subject, Sports Science, and pretty much live my dream life. A year on, I am sat in the exact same place (my house), after a short year detour to Leeds, I have just received the go-ahead to do just that. Although my year at Leeds wasn’t part of the plan, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
My journey to Leeds was not as straightforward as most. Just weeks before results day, I had a huge lapse in confidence; I questioned my worth and abilities, even whether studying Sports Science was really for me. I didn’t look like the other people on my course – I wouldn’t be caught dead in running leggings, I like reading, I actually enjoy studying and I don’t even play a sport… My stubborn nature means I’ve always been one to show up just to prove I could do something, and that was exactly my mindset when applying for Sports Science at a top-ranking university – and yet this lapse in confidence meant I felt like I didn’t deserve my place there, so I decided to give it up, swap courses and move to Leeds to study French instead.
Nevertheless, that dip in confidence has ended up being a blessing in so many ways.
Firstly, it has meant that I have been able to meet some of the most amazing people in my year at Leeds. From Her Campus to my new French course, I have found friends for life and feel totally at home. If I hadn’t had that lapse in confidence, I may never have met some of these people; they have supported me and picked me up when I’ve been down, the kind of friends you always hope you have – and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The people I’ve met at Leeds have taught me that you WILL find your people, even if right now you feel alone. This time last year I had very few real friends and I started to think I would never find people who truly understood me – but I pushed myself, put myself out there and I ultimately attracted the people I wanted – and needed – in my life.
This last year has also taught me that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I’m a stickler for routine, I must admit, so the prospect of online university was way out of my comfort zone. It has, however, been a gift. I have been able to do things at my own pace and live an independent life (ironically, from the comfort of my own home): I schedule my time, in charge of balancing my work, job and social life, and I get to sit down and have a proper catch up with my mum every night – for me, it’s a win-win.
Finally, this year has taught me that it is okay to make mistakes, just as long as you learn from them.
When I decided to change course and university last August, I did so out of fear. Fear that I wasn’t good enough. I decided that it was better to settle for something that I knew I could do, rather than push myself to be the best.
As someone with anxiety, I often find it difficult to step out of my comfort zone, especially with university – something I know many people will relate to. Because of it, I truly believed that swapping from Sports Science to French was what I wanted - not just settling. How wrong was I?
I could sit back and look at this year as time wasted doing something that I didn’t love. But why would I do that? Why would I put a negative spin on a year that has done me so much good? Yes, I may have studied for a year and not really have anything to show for it, but I have also learned so much more about myself.
I have learned that I am strong and capable of whatever I set my mind to.
I have learned that sometimes things happen for a reason.
I have learned that things can always be changed, sorted or put right.
I have learned that life isn’t one-size-fits-all.
But mainly I have learned that your life is YOURS and you don’t have to explain anything to anybody else. Live it how you want to - mistakes are part of the journey!
Words by: Alice Mason
Edited by: Millie Reed