Being at university isn't all fun and games. Some weeks are great, I get to all my lectures and seminars, manage to chat to other students, go on a couple of nights out, and feel like I have my life under control. And other weeks don't exactly go to plan... I feel demotivated and like a failure, just want to stay at my boyfriend's all the time and I really miss my mom. Before Christmas, I wasn't feeling too good about uni. I didn't feel at home in the house that I share with five friends, was going home every couple of weeks, and was worried about becoming a bit of a burden to my boyfriend as I wanted to stay at his lots instead of trying to make my own place work.
I just didn't feel... I dunno, cosy? I didn't look forward to coming back to the house after a long day of uni. My room didn't feel like my room, and it made me miserable. After a lovely month at home over Christmas, I was anxious about coming back to university... worried that I still wouldn't feel settled in. But things have changed, and in 2016, I'm feeling a lot better. I was determined not to rely on my boyfriend so much as it just wasn't fair, and actually look forward to coming back to my own room and my own space. I used to be so good at entertaining myself and considered myself to be someone who craved having time alone, but during the first few months of second year, I seemed to lose my confidence somewhat, and forgot how to make myself happy.
There are lots of little things that have made my self esteem return, made me feel more content, and made me feel at home in my house. Just simple things that anyone can apply to their life. I know for a fact from speaking to friends that uni is not easy for most people, and many of us have days where we feel lost and unfulfilled. I hope these tips will help those of you who need a bit of a confidence and happiness boost.
Planning your days gives them purpose and structure, even if it's as small as writing "do laundry, return library book and look online for jobs" in your diary. I don't have many contact hours at uni, and I find having a little diary where I write down what tasks, however boring, that I'm going to aim to do in my free time really helps me feel motivated and on track. It also helps prevent me from rotting in bed until 2pm and then watching and re-watching The Undateables until I feel sleepy again... we've all been there and it may be fun at the time, but then you suddenly realise you haven't had any sunlight in twenty four hours... so it's best to avoid.
2) Plan again
... but this time with friends. And it doesn't all have to be alcohol and night out related too. Despite what you may have heard, not everyone at university is a party animal. Have a look at what's going on in the local area or at your uni. It's easy to get stuck in a kind of student bubble where you feel disconnected from the city or town that you're in. But what's stopping you from going to the free art gallery like you would with your grandparents back at home? And why not try out the local craft market with a few pals? It makes me feel much more fulfilled and accomplished when I'm an active member of the community, and when I make plans with friends.
3) Make an effort
Don't just run upstairs to your room as soon as you get in from lectures, despite how tempting it might be when you're tired and a bit moody. Make the effort to go into the kitchen and talk to your housemates about their day and maybe watch a bit of easy TV with them... who doesn't love Four in a Bed?! I have to admit, sometimes I feel like I really can't be bothered to socialise, but then I always feel much better and chirpier when I do make the effort. In the end it's not good to isolate yourself from your friends and housemates, and I know it make me a lot more positive when I do something as simple as watching some TV, or ordering a take away with my housemates.
4) Make it cosy and comfy
The aesthetic of where I spend my time is so important to me. People bang on about it not being the bricks and mortar, but the people you share it with that's important... but let's face it, if you're spending lots of your time in a bland, cheaply furnished and slightly moldy student room, it does get you down. So go mad with the fairy lights, scatter those cushions, hide that mold... make it cosy! It's so much lovelier to be able to relax in a comfy and homely environment... I leave a trail of fairy lights wherever I go, and I'm not ashamed... they instantly make me feel nice and snug. And another thing... before Christmas, I didn't really utilise the desk in my room as I thought it was too small and in too awkward-a-place, but when exams rolled around in January, I decided to try it out properly. With a stretch of an extension lead and shuffle of some books, I've managed to make the space work, and it's so much better than trying to get essays done in bed. They say that it's not productive to work in you bed as you associate it with sleep... I do get where they're coming from (whoever "they" are...), although over the years I have managed to get many a word written from my duvet cocoon... however, it is definitely much easier to sit at a desk when trying to write and spread out my books, and it makes me feel all fancy and on track too.
5) Go home!
I definitely was going home too much before Christmas. I used it as a kind of cop out... rather than trying to make myself feel comfortable in my house at uni, I would just book a cheap Megabus ticket, shove a few things in a bag and be back with my parents and cats in a couple of hours. But I do think going home is important, and I'm still going to be making trips back this semester, just less frequently. It's lovely to pick a date to go home on, and then have something else (along with you art gallery and craft fair trips) to look forward to. You need a break from adulty things like food shopping once in a while, and a weekend every now and then with your momma is like a bit of respite that makes you feel rejuvenated. Having lots and lots of weekends at home takes that respite factor away somewhat, so I'm trying to stay away from the Megabus site... and so far it's going pretty well, although I am looking forward to seeing my cats again sometime soon!
6) Work on personal projects
I didn't really blog at all last semester. I didn't spend time on my own personal projects, and I'm sure that was a big contributing factor in why I wasn't happy. I love writing, and I have so many article ideas just waiting to be written, and when I take these projects of mine seriously and take time out of my day to work on them, I feel motivated and accomplished. As I mentioned earlier, I was worried that I was becoming a burden to my boyfriend as I used his flat as an escape, (like I used going home) and opted to run there and rely on him, rather than working on myself and trying to be more self reliant. When I am busy with my projects, I am more likely to look forward to going back to my place and having time alone, as I get to work on my writing. And when I work on my writing, I'm helping to build my portfolio and make baby steps towards getting a job I want when I graduate next year, so it's a win-win situation. So whether you personal project is blogging, YouTube-ing, working out, cooking, or whatever else, push yourself to make time in your life for it. I know it can be hard to get started on something that you haven't worked on for a while and procrastination creeps in, but once you've just made a little start, just written one word or done a two minute warm-up, you've made progress, and it gets much easier from there.
Well I wasn't expecting this post to be so long or personal, but writing it has helped confirm to myself what I need to do to keep myself on track and happy, and I hope it helps you too!