So I had planned on writing my first blog post on this platform on the appropriate theme of preparation for uni, and in some respects, it is still about that. But truth be told, the past two weeks have been all emotions for me, and I’ve done more reminiscing about the past than I have planning for the not-so-distant future.
I think most of us experience some emotional turmoil when it comes to moving on. So whether you’ve kissed your favourite teddy bear goodbye and are ready to brave the next step alone, or whether it’ll be the first thing you pack for halls, here are five tips for overcoming resistance to change and embracing this exciting new chapter of your life.
1. Get realistic. At first it’ll seem intimidating, three or more years chock-full of all of these books you’ve never heard of, academics who make your previous head teachers look about as intimidating as Barney the Dinosaur, and bars and booze and the infamous caffeinated morning lectures. But let’s face it, starting uni does not necessarily mean we’re starring in the next American Pie sequel. In reality, uni is merely a new learning environment, and you’re entirely in control of what else you do when you get there!
2. Acknowledge improvements. Make an annual habit of making a ‘who am I?’ board. This is a spider-diagram of all of your qualities, skills, hobbies, influences, worries, inspirations, aspirations and anything else definitive to you. This can take any form you fancy, images, magazine clippings, multi-coloured Sharpies or good old Biro. My personal favourite is silver gel pen on black sugar paper. Next year, make another one without looking at the last and then compare them. Recognise all of the improvements you’ve made in just one year.
3. One step at a time. Steve Jobs famously points out “you can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only connect them looking backwards”. In other words, don’t think you have to slide from A to B on a horizontal straight-edge. Expect detours, tangents, dead ends, going round in circles, and heck, sometimes we go backwards. All that matters is that you take the next step, and trust that the next will unfold after that.
4. You’ve done this all before. You’ve had dozens of ‘first days’! Know that everyone will be sharing your anxiety and will be trying to appear confident and assured – so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re the only one with sweaty palms. Where confidence is concerned, the best advice I was ever given was ‘fake it until you make it’. And just remember, you’ve played the ‘fresher’ many times before.
5. Get excited! Whether you’re motivated by the idea of independence and the thought of devoting your life to your subject, or by some idyllic vision of sitting in Starbucks enthralled in your latest assignment (an unrealistic dream – we students can’t afford Starbucks) invite this change by allowing it to excite you!
As humans we cling to our comfort zones, even when they are not so comfortable any more, and we fear the unfamiliar. We forget they were once the unfamiliar, too.