The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I had high expectations for how my first year at university was supposed to go. Although I did have a lot of fun and have made wonderful friends and memories, I was hit with more challenges than I had expected, making my first year one hell of a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, laughs, mental breakdowns, triumphs and failures.
Maybe I read too much, but the way I anticipated my first year of university was heavily influenced by literature and pop culture. I was prepared to venture into the “party life” of drinking, clubbing and hook-ups. I figured my roommates would become my core group of friends and we would all rent a house together next year. I imagined going to football games, celebrating homecoming weekend, playing beer pong in the streets and maybe even finding someone compatible to be in a relationship with.
None of these things happened to me and I was disappointed that I could not push myself to do more and find a balance between being a young adult and having fun.
I would say that I received a huge reality check. There was a lot on my plate between working, studying and dealing with both physical and mental health issues. I didn’t consider that these factors would prohibit me from living my best life at university.
Consequently, I have felt like my first-year experience was the result of me failing to live up to my expectations and I have been critical of what I could have done differently.
For instance, I wish I could have said no to an extra shift and gone out with friends instead, but then I would remember that I needed the money for weekly groceries and to pay my bills. I wish I could have ignited a spark of energy in me to go out after a day of classes and studying to party and dance until I drop without feeling guilty about missing schoolwork. I wish I could’ve gone out to clubs without the worry of getting COVID. These are all factors I can control by changing my mindset to be more forgiving of myself and not striving so hard to be perfect with everything I do.
Next semester, I plan on saying no to extra shifts; I already work four times a week. I plan on going out more, as a few nights off from studying could benefit my mental health. I plan on going out dancing at the clubs because I need to learn how to live my life without being constantly anxious about my health.
As for the factors I can’t control, I will have to learn to accept that I am trying my best, despite the difficulties that particular circumstances may impose. I believe that by being more understanding towards myself, I will be able to create more realistic expectations and goals for this upcoming fall term.
I need to lower my expectations of how I think these experiences are supposed to go and learn to live in the moment. I will be much happier and more satisfied with myself if I can let go and enjoy this period of my life rather than place unrealistic expectations on myself and my experiences in university.
Although the expectations I had of myself suffered and I had issues with adjusting to the reality of university life, I’ve now begun to realize that I should be proud of myself. I’ve learned a lot more than I’ve realized
, and this self-growth has been valuable to me, even though it came at a cost.