Ask any university graduate their memories of uni and the majority will instantaneously reply saying ‘ah mate, university is so good, you do hardly any work, you go out all the time, I wish I was there again, 21 is the best age … the best years of my life’. They then go on to recount some ridiculous story, a pub crawl which got out of hand ending up at club with a midget they met on the way.
You’re there left thinking ‘wow, uni is great, uni is/will be/should be the best years of my life’. Before coming to uni, I had this conversation with so many people, I was expecting a cross between Disneyland and Ayia Napa with a dusty unused library in the centre purely used for medicinal purposes.
Uni can be great. For the first time you are totally independent, no one is around to hold you back. You meet people from all over the place in halls and live with a group of close mates in subsequent years. You learn the art to bullshitting your way through a conversation about your subject. Own brand, 2 for £3.50 and you know the rest.
What people never mention are the hard times. The time spent alone when you’re not at uni and procrastinating from work, cold nights in a dirty house no one wants to clean, the constant fight to remain within your overdraft limit. In an age of social media, you are constantly reminded of the good times your mates are having elsewhere. You end up thinking to yourself, ‘why am I feeling like this?’ ‘He/she is having the best time there’ ‘everyone said uni would be the best thing ever, why am I feeling sad right now?’
Say you fell down the stairs – it would really hurt right? You’d probably get up and have a bit of a limp. If the limp persists for a few days you would probably go and see a doctor. What if a girl or boy you really liked dumped you, or someone close to you passed away, it would really hurt right? You could feel down for a few days or a few weeks even. The majority wouldn’t go and see someone. After all we are at uni, these are the best, most fantastic, greatest years of our life ever right? We can’t feel sad.
This expectation needs to change. The way to change it is to talk. When you’re feeling down, mention it to a friend or family. You’d be surprised how much they listen.
words by Henry Kevis
Henry has been advocating mental health awareness in any way he can this month. He has been growing a moustache too, and updating his followers with various snippets about mental illness. Donate to his Mospace below.