Walking in to the world of University is almost comparable to a culture shock. Your life spins 180 degrees on it’s head while you meet new people and try new things. When I started at Cardiff I was hugely confident in my ability to make friends. Something I was very lucky to have persuaded myself of. However, I found myself alone more than I thought I would and, with this came the creeping, crippling anxiety of being percived “weirdly” on campus.
Part of the Norm
Nobody tells you about the part of University where you chose a different module to your friends on your course. Nobody tells you about the times you brave a 9am and nobody else does. Nor do they tell you about walking in to a lecture late when you are on your own. During these moments it is easy to feel like every eye is on you. That you are the only person in the history of the world EVER to be sat in a seminar room feeling completley out of place and unable to answer any questions.
Nobody tells you about this part because nobody wants to admit that they ever are alone on campus. It is important to remember that, despite what everyone says (or doesn’t say) – this is normal. It is part of university life. We are so used to being surrounded by people as a result of communal living that we start to rate our social success by how many people we are with.
In reality this type of thinking is totally incorrect. Sometimes being alone is the most effective or productive thing you can do for yourself – if and when you overcome that feeling of anxiety. Personally, I started not going to lectures if my friends weren’t, or spending money on uber to get back to halls rather than walk home on my own. These things are not sustainable or beneficial to anyone.
“Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself, dont ignore this critic but don’t give it more attention that it deserves” – Micheal Ian Black
A philosophy that is relevant in almost all aspects of life, but one that is especially useful in this context. Ask yourself, if you have ever seen someone alone on campus and thought anything of it or, of them. The answer is going to be no. So why do we feel as though people are critquing us for doing the same thing?
Everyone, at some point is alone around university. That is an indisputable fact. It is irrational for us the believe that when it comes to our turn, others are going to form negative opinions of us. It is ok to have those feelings, in a reasonable capacity. If you think that they are starting to interfere with your everyday life and stopping you from functioning as you should then you may be struggling with something a little deeper.
If this is the case, then you need to reach out to friends, family and the university services: