Third year blues.
So this post is a bit of a throwback, because I actually wrote this in my journal back in October. I didn’t type it up at the time because I was really struggling at uni with burnout and i’m not sure sharing some of these thoughts back then would have made me feel any better.
I have decided to share these ramblings today because I have a habit of only sharing the good stuff online, when in fact uni hasn’t been easy at all, and this might help someone who is feeling the same thoughts whilst studying.
Just know that circumstances can change, and feeling panicked about your future means you care about it.
In January I began the interview progress for the graduate job I am about to start, and shortly after I began to regain my confidence and got some of the highest marks I have ever received on my course. I nearly dropped out in October and couldn’t get out of bed most mornings, and that feeling lasted half a year. Sometimes you need to slow down and look after yourself until you are ready to pick yourself up again, and when you do you will feel like a new person, I promise.
So here are a few pages from my journal about my third year blues…
When I first applied for university, I envisioned myself as a slightly older student, finally arriving in a positive space to flourish creatively and get my sh*t together before entering the world of work. So far, and we’re getting into third year now, that hasn’t happened. I will add that I didn’t expect university to be easy, however the stress, burnout and isolation I have experienced over the last two years is something I definitely couldn’t have imagined experiencing to this extent.
The word dissertation stresses me out. I’ve been told to just see it as a big essay because that’s all it is. However, it feels as though this is what it has all been leading up to, and unfortunately, I still feel as though I am just ticking a box and on a fast track to an essay crisis a week before the deadline.
I began this semester with burnout and bad mental health, which has made overcoming the dissertation obstacle even harder. I’m yet to actually put pen to paper and start drafting anything as I am writing this. The thought of starting at this point feels too overwhelming.
Currently I have had two dissertation tutorials and have felt positive leaving both, however, as time passes after I walk out of the door with a newly purposeful stride, I begin to realise how unprepared I am and that I didn’t make enough of an opportunity out of it. It’s almost as though my tutor and I were talking about something alien to what I am actually experiencing when I sit alone in my room with my laptop.
A few weeks ago I had a meeting with the student welfare department at my university and explained to a counsellor that I want to quit, but I can’t, and that being here is making me depressed. I feel so hopeless at the moment because I know that in order to reach the next necessary step to doing what I want to be doing with my life, I need a degree with a decent grade, and my heart isn’t in my degree subject anymore. Therefore, I have to put myself through all this stress over something I no longer enjoy, in order to work towards something I can’t even imagine yet.
One thing I have struggled with, over the past two years especially, is having to deal with not being liked, being ignored and feeling as though people want to see me fail. Which is mostly because of my course - which is extremely competitive - and my perpetual lack of confidence, which doesn’t provide me with the most likeable personality traits.
When I was growing up my parents always told me that I should never do anything just to make them proud, and that everything I do should solely be for myself and no one else, and over the past three years especially, I have tried to maintain that mindset. However, I often linger on thoughts of people misunderstanding my motivations and reasons for working so hard and also at times promoting my achievements.
Imposter syndrome is something I have read about recently and really relate to. I was talking to a tutor the other day who was struggling to understand why I feel the way I do at the moment, and she began listing my achievements in order to make me like myself more. The problem is, if you think the way that I do then you cannot internalise your successes. If I win an award, I can justify to myself that it was the result of luck or that not many people knew about it so there weren’t many entries anyway. So I think to myself, maybe if I share it on social media and people say for example, “well done you really deserved this,” then maybe I can listen to that and take it in, which doesn’t ever really happen.
Hand on my heart, I don’t know what my passion in life is. I’ve tried so many different things and still one specific thing is unable to peak my enthusiasm to the extent where it becomes my desired profession, and that stresses me out.
You’re probably thinking, Em, why do you put so much importance on knowing such specific things about yourself? And, why can’t you just enjoy university like everyone else? The truth is, I wish I could. I wish I could just not care and go out and have fun, but that isn’t the way I am programmed. I overthink and I care a lot about these things, so it always feel as though everything is resting on what I make of these three years.
Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed a lot of things at uni, it’s just that a lot of the time I feel weighed down by stress and the pressure I put on myself, and by the idea of what I will amount to when I leave this place…
…so yeah. Third year blues got me good. I should probably start writing that dissertation now.