What you don’t realise about uni is that you’ll spend so much time alone

We’re forced to enjoy our own company

So you’ve done it. You’ve packed up and moved away to university and you’re somewhere that’s either a city or resembles an urban environment and for about a week it’s just great, isn’t it?

And you always see it, the people who really truly do slot well into a university lifestyle; the people that don’t fret or harrumph over deadlines too excessively, they sort of just get on with it- not EXCLUSIVELY last minute, but with just enough leeway to write a decent assignment.

They’ll go out and get sensibly hammered every night, but be ready for gym in the morning, a savvy brunch and then they’ll canoodle off to the library, and know at least five people on the way there because they have truly made friends, and began to make life long bonds. Some people don’t slot in so well.

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What you don’t really expect about university is how much time you spend with yourself. It’s not always depressing and harrowing of course, but it becomes a panicky adjustment that you may not have been used to.

Have you ever noticed that the social hermits stick together? Albeit endearing, this can further make matters worse. When your friends are as reclusive as you are, it means that whenever your brain does decide to push the boulder of nervous energy out of the way for enough time for you to get the courage to suggest going out and doing something, the friend will most likely decline.

20160519_161955You’ll notice a lot of people around you having best friends they have found in new flatmates, or a boyfriend/girlfriend they found and you start to close in on just how lonely existing can feel when you do finally gain this freedom of a university lifestyle you’ve craved for so long. To get away from your loud happening family (and you do begin to miss hearing your parents and siblings pottering around earlier than anyone should ever be allowed to wake up) and the small town atmosphere you’ve always detested (but at least you knew people. and they knew you.)

This feeling isn’t dark, or sorrowful, but very neutral and blurry and alienating in its nature- be prepared for it.
20160519_164444 (1) It isolates you away from the solidarity you tend to think you MUST feel (where’s your university pride, you wonder.) This is where it becomes important to actually push yourself to join in, to surround yourself with people that open your eyes to the fact that everyone feels it to an extent. Many students have commented on the need to join societies in first year that help ease the tension of thinking you’re the only one in the dark:

“I think the easiest way to acquire a community vibe in such a large, diverse university is to seriously commit yourself to a society or group of people that are very passionate about one activity.”

-Alexandra Naranjo, first year Biology student

“Settling into uni can be quite daunting in your first year, but I think the best way to go is to encourage yourself to do stuff, even if you’re not 100 per cent sure. Joining societies is a great way to meet new people and make friends, so it’s definitely worth forcing yourself into doing new things.”

-Stephanie Moothoosawmy, first year French student

The constant awareness that you’ve quite surely began the first step of briskly waling away from familiarity, and embracing independence. The dawning feeling that if you mess up, it’ll truly be your mess to clean up. Nobody can really stay long enough to help guide you through this strange cloud you feel hanging over you, people can only really come in for brief moments of relief with light chatter and light hearted conversation to present that you are not alone, but then they leave, and you find yourself with your thoughts again. This phenomenon is normal, and in the long-run good, because you begin to learn living with the pressures you put on yourself. You begin to learn accepting that actually, yourself is pretty good company and the boulder of responsibility you feel may have to become a permanent appendage you have to carry but that’s okay because you’re moving onwards, and upwards.


Queen Mary University of London