They say that your time at university will be the best days of your life. Limited responsibilities, loads of time to party and drink, a plethora of extra-curricular activities to keep you occupied, and the opportunity to make lifelong friends or even meet the love of your life. But how accurate is this expectation, and is it actually dangerous?
With such an expectation built up for you, it’s easy to see how people can go into Freshers with the desire to try everything and be everywhere, with FOMO being the main driving force behind this. I’m sure we’ve all come away from Bunfight in previous years laden with dozens of society flyers which look interesting but you’ll never go to anything more than the taster events.
If you do commit to actually joining societies, there is still a feeling that you’re obliged to attend all the socials, and I feel this is especially true for sports societies. Not because you want to, but because you feel you should.
The approach to Freshers is quite similar, with going out every night to various clubs, as well as all the SUSU events in the daytime, being what is expected, or else you’re ‘not making the most of it’.
This sentiment is both unsustainable and unhelpful. Not only are people pressured into getting involved in everything (which is exhausting, expensive and can negatively impact studies) but it’s not good for mental health either. Throwing yourself into activities just because you feel you should is not something that will make you happy, but something which will wear you down.
The feeling that you need to make the most of uni because it’s only going to go downhill from here is also unconstructive. If uni isn’t everything you thought it would be, then placing such high expectations on it can lead to feeling that the future after uni isn’t going to be any better either.
Whilst it may feel like it while we’re here, uni isn’t the defining stage of your life, and there will be a time when your time spent here will just be a (hopefully fond) memory.
I write this as an introvert from the countryside who spent most of my Freshers week in the library. I don’t really get FOMO or peer pressure, but they can be substantial influences on some people, which is aggravated by social media. All of these impressions of what uni should be like based on what other people are doing shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do, even if that is nothing.
Uni might be the best days of your life. They have been for me. So far. But uni also isn’t for everyone and that’s ok. Life goes on far beyond our years at university, so if it hasn’t been everything you thought it would be, then fear not – much more is to come.