5 Reasons Why I Only Started Enjoying University Now

At the ripe young age of 21, I still have a lot to learn.  With this being said, in my fourth and final year, I’ve finally found what is needed for me to truly enjoy myself at university. For the longest time, I was unaware of what I am about to share with you. It took me 3. 5 years to understand and recognize all of this so this is some good s**t! Understanding what I am about to present to you has made me the most happy and productive I’ve ever been and these concepts may be something you want to remind yourself of as 2020 begins. You can turn things around and enjoy your time at university if you take the time to consider what I am about to say.

  1. 1. Do not listen to the noise.

    Don’t listen to the noise about which program is the best, which is the worst, who’s sleeping with who, who got into grad school and who didn’t. Do not listen to the noise in whatever form it enters your life. For the longest time, I listened to the noise surrounding my program. For 3 years I felt horribly insecure about being a student studying philosophy. The amount of times I have had people say to me “well you’re not going to be able to do much with that” or rudely suggest “that’s not very employable program to be in” is absolutely f*****g ridiculous and discouraging above anything else. The worst part is I believed all of these things for the first 3 years of university! I listened to the noise! I spent too much time caught up on other people’s opinions about my program.  Whenever someone would ask what program I was in I would dread having to answer. When I would answer I would have to find a way to justify it, to make it seem more useful or “employable.” I would say “well… many students apply to law school after taking a philosophy degree so I may do that.” It is true that many philosophy students do go on to write their LSATS, however, I knew from day one I had no desire whatsoever to apply to law school. Though, what I did know from day one is that I enjoyed the content being taught and it was something that I genuinely appreciated. Knowing that it was something I genuinely enjoyed from day one should’ve been enough to cancel out the noise from the start. Screw the noise! The only noise that you should be listening to is the noise that comes from within you. Do what you enjoy and what you know is right for you and I guarantee you will have a fun and life-changing university experience. 

  2. 2. I know it's cold outside and the last thing you want to do is walk to the ARC or go for a run but you NEED to do it for your sanity, trust me. 

    This is something I wished I understood far earlier on in my university career. It may sound like common sense but I cannot stress the importance of taking care of yourself physically as well as mentally while in university. In my high school days, I played rugby, soccer, and hockey inside and outside of school. These sports gave me something to look forward to and a way to blow off some steam when I had a crappy day. As soon as I entered university I no longer had the structure of organized sports and going to the gym was quite a daunting task. I got very easily discouraged and overwhelmed going to the arc as a frosh. I did not know how to use any of the machines, I worried about looking stupid far too much, and the exercise became more of a chore than a hobby. I dappled in intramurals in first and third year but I still personally found them to be discouraging as there was never a great turn out and they were loosely structured. Find a form of exercise that works for you because believe me there will be some days where you need it more than you expect. This year I started to play LUG women’s league hockey and I cannot begin to explain how much a constant commitment to exercising every week has improved my well being mentally and physically. Sometimes I even feel as though I walk into the hockey rink as one person (who is usually a stressed out, grouchy, on edge student) and come out as a completely different person (who is a lot more calm, happy and level headed.) Even if you were not necessarily an athlete in high school, I encourage you to find some sort of physical activity to translate your stress into happiness. Figuring this out and playing sports again have contributed to making my fourth and final year one for the books.

  3. 3. Be open to meeting new people. 

    Whether this be friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, never close off your circle of friends or stop making an effort to meet new people. It is incredibly easy is to stick with your high school friends that came with you to Queen’s however it can close you off from meeting other people who can greatly impact your life. This year, two of my very close friends who also are my housemates went on an internship. I knew they were going to sublet their rooms, and being an introverted person I dreaded thought of meeting two new people and having two strangers living in my house. Some of my other housemates met the two subletters to see if they would be a good fit to live with. I was so negative about the situation I didn’t even care to meet with the new subletters, little did I know that one of them would end up being one of my very best friends. I was so closed minded about meeting new people. I thought: “well I already have a group of friends and I’m comfortable with who I live with now so what is the point in trying to open up to someone new that I may not even get along with?” As you can see this is a very sour mentality and almost made me miss out on meeting one of my best friends. She also introduced me to this platform, if it were for her I wouldn’t be in front of my computer writing to you so you can thank her for that (thank you Cassidy <3.) With all of this being said, it is also important to understand people come and go and that people are placed in your life at certain times for a reason. I wholeheartedly believe that and I want you to know there is absolutely nothing wrong with drifting from friends you may have been closer with in the past. Being open to new people as well as experiences as you can expect has made this year the best one yet of my university career.

  4. 4. Don’t feel like you need to conform. Just do your thang.

    As a little baby frosh I felt a strong need to drink, dress a certain way, and conduct myself in a certain way in order to “fit in.” For the longest time, I accepted this as my new identity. I thought to myself, “well this is me now.” This is how I can be a part of Queen’s. I felt like I couldn’t dress the way I normally did or behave the way I normally did. I let conformity cloud my authenticity. I felt like I couldn’t wear certain clothing because they were “too alternative” for Queen’s or I felt like I couldn’t actually admit that I didn’t like drinking because it was such a big part of the social culture and nightlife. It took me approximately 3 years of my life to understand that it was okay to say, “no I don’t like drinking” and “I’m gonna wear whatever the hell I want!” The second I let go of conformity (which unfortunately took me far too long) I became a much happier and confident person. All of this is far easier said than done, however this year I can truly say I give no f***ks about what other people think of me. If you can grasp this concept early on in your university career you will thrive.  

  5. 5. Don’t apologize for being you and don’t let others convince you of your worth.

    Finally, something I spent far too much time doing in my university career was apologizing and letting others convince me of my worth. I would essentially attempt this massive balancing act of trying to please others and chronically apologizing for when I didn’t please them or couldn’t please them. Apologizing for your interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, characteristics, style, and values may appease others, but I guarantee you will be miserable in the end. If you can comprehend this early on you will be far ahead of the curve. Who you are isn’t something you need to apologize for. Along with apologizing for being me, I spent a good portion of time allowing others to convince me of my worth.  Whether it be your GPA, classmates, professors, boyfriends, girlfriends, or housemates, DO NOT let anyone convince you of your worth. Understand that your morals will not line up with everyone else’s and your relationship with yourself is what matters the most at the end of the day. Do not believe for a second that your GPA or a snarky comment someone makes about you is an accurate representation of who you are as a person.  

If you can try and remember these five things I promise you will be able to enjoy university now.