Uni Pressures, Anxiety and Living the Dream

living the dream

In my last post I announced some big news about the future of my blog, which marks a new chapter for my writing and also some other changes in my life. Before that, it had been close to six months since my last post so it appears we have some catching up to do!

So where HAVE you been? I hear you all cry.

Writing your first novel? Single-handedly fighting for world peace?

The unexciting truth is that my time has been spent finishing up my Master’s degree and I cannot begin to describe the relief I feel now that it’s over. The past year has pushed me to my limits. I’ve experienced a whole range of emotions and states from exhausted, tired, anxious and depressed to overwhelming numbing of my emotions entirely. Of course, this isn’t all due to uni but it definitely contributed to these feelings in a big way.

I felt completely overwhelmed by my work and at one point I stopped going to my classes altogether for over a month. I gave in to my negative thoughts and resigned to the fact I was going to fail so what was the point in going anyway?

Gradually through speaking to my friends and lecturers, I learned that these beliefs weren’t true. Sometimes to get yourself out of a negative cycle you need to talk to someone – be it a friend, lecturer or counselor – who can look at things from a more rational point of view. Most importantly, you need to allow yourself to be open to what they have to say.

As a society, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go when it comes to talking about mental health so a lot of the time when I felt low I kept these feelings to myself.  I wish I hadn’t as I’ve come to realise what an incredible support system I have around me.

Knowing what I know now when I look back on the past year I can see I was deeply unhappy and could have definitely done with some time out of education to just focus on myself.

What’s next?

Now that uni is finally over I am WAY less stressed and have become a lot more in tune with what my mind/body needs to keep it ticking along smoothly. In just the three short weeks since I begrudgingly submitted my dissertation, I have noticed some huge changes in myself.

Being able to get through the day without the immense pressure of my ridiculously high personal expectations is more than just a relief – it’s exciting. I actually have time to focus on projects and interests that I truly care about and to just chill out for once.

At some point during the course of my degree, I decided enough was enough. I think so many people today are conditioned to follow what they think they should do rather than what they truly want to do. I know this because I’ve felt that pressure and have seen the toll unrealistic expectations have taken on others around me and it’s deeply saddening.

It was after this realisation that I made the decision to focus more of my energy really listening to myself. What did I want? What would an ideal day for me look like? What did I want to do with my life?
After some soul searching/therapy I made the decision to use my savings and go travelling when I finished studying (I booked the flight for the same day as my last hand in). I’m delighted to say that I’m now halfway through a six-week trip around Thailand and Vietnam, which will be followed by a year working in Australia.

It’s still early days but it honestly feels like one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s forced me to challenge myself in ways I’d have never imagined. By allowing myself to be vulnerable I’ve proved to myself that my character is stronger than I ever envisioned. A lot of the time when people talk to me about my life and my decision/ability to travel they say that I’m “living the dream”.

For me, this isn’t the dream.

In fact, it isn’t even remotely close.

This is one of the first times in my life that the reality has proved to be far more thrilling than anything I could imagine.

I can’t wait to share the journey with you.

What about you guys? How have you dealt with challenging times in your life? What advice would you give to others? Let me know!

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