When people describe their ‘uni-experience’ it is usually positive. “I met my best friends there”, “uni was soo much fun”, “hard work but enjoyable”; the list of comments go on.
But for me it wasn’t completely like that – my experience was HARSH but necessary.
University life was quite hard for me. I went to a university where I knew no-one and was far from home. At the time, I wanted to take a big risk and experience a change of environment, something different but what I didn’t know was how my choice would change me. My first year was very full: 9am-5pm lectures 4 days a week with a half day (9am-12am) EVERY Wednesday, church on Sundays, studying at least 3 hours a day to make sure I understood words (WORDS that I still cannot pronounce till this very day), cooking a lot of food (that will take me and a roommate a month to finish), stressing about the amount work I had to do, trying to stay awake in the club whilst my friends get ‘waved’, sleeping for about 30mins- 1 hour every other night, and to top it all 3 4-week placements in 2 hospitals.
I was trying to juggle it ALL – friends, social life, education, studying, spiritual life. It was going well in the beginning, I finished first year with good grades and great friends. I thought that I had a WINNING formula that will last me till graduation. Second year started off well – I had made some new friends, great housemates, was active in church and I had met my boyfriend. It was going so well until one day I failed an exam. Now the pass rate is 40%, guess what I got – 39.9%. NOW, would have it been easier for this BLESSED woman of God to HAVE JUST rounded up? YES. Did she? No. So I had to retake an exam to increase my grade by 0.01%.
After that retake I decided that in my final year I would double up on the education life and reduce the social life. So my routine became very mundane – uni→home, placement→home, church→home, library→home. The bubbly, social girl quickly evolved into a very boring person – cancelled trips, unattended socials, ridiculous time spent in the library, unlimited all-night studying. That seed of failure grew into a forest that I could no longer control. I was the full definition of overwhelmed. ‘I didn’t want to fail, I couldn’t fail, I had to do well’ was the mantra I would play in my head over and over. The amount of pressure that I had placed on myself was so intense that I became NUMB.
What does it mean to be NUMB? It’s a very dangerous place – very scary. You don’t feel anything – not happy, not sad, not anything. You are alive but not living, there’s no difference between you and a robot (you are moving, doing things but there is nothing that connects you to the action). One night I had finished studying and opened up a box of pain killers, placed between 12-16 pills in a cup of water and tried to down the mixture. After the first swallow, I ended up choking and had realised what I was about to do; something happened to me. I honestly cannot tell you what but something happened and I BECAME AFRAID OF MYSELF.
The next morning I ran to church, found my Pastor and broke down. It was the first time that expressing my true thoughts and feelings had felt like a need. After having a very long but needed conversation with her I went home and spoke to my roommate, my family, friends and boyfriend – telling them everything, how I had been feeling and how hard the last couple of years had been for me.
I have this issue where I don’t talk about my feelings. I keep them contained under lock and key in a box, and store it somewhere deep in my head. It was not until I went to uni that I became aware of how I was unintentionally hurting myself by being covert with my emotions. Surviving uni gave me a new persective of myself – to be open is not to be weak. There is strength in emotions and when you genuinely express them there is an internal peace that just overflows filling your heart with joy.
This is still something that I am constantly working on….. I am still trying to get the balanace right. Any advice?????????
Peace and Love