By Samuel Clinton, a current NTU 3rd Year International Relations Student
In my first year of University, many moons ago, I got overwhelmed and I ended up struggling with depression, it really can happen to anyone. So, here are 7 tips that might help you navigate University:
- Be Patient
- A key thing I learnt while at University is patience, a key skill you will need in life, but one that you do not learn in the classroom, despite how cliché it sounds. I came to University with the usual dreams: a great girlfriend; amazing friends, loads of drinking, a course I loved, a six pack, tattoos, and pretty much everything really, probably even world peace. But my expectations were pretty naïve. Obviously not all of that happened, and even the stuff that did, did not happen in the way I expected it to. But that’s life, its surprising and a learning curve. You soon realise adults are just older versions of us, with less hair and more wrinkles. You’re not going to have everything figured out, (whatever that means), by the end of first year, or even the end of third year. Where would the fun in that be after all? Be patient, life is what you make of it in a sense, which leads onto the next two points in particular.
- It’s never too late
- Honestly whenever something bad happened in first year, like me insulting someone after one too many Kopparberg’s, I thought it was the end of the world and an angry mob would soon chase me off the University campus. But that didn’t happen. Today’s gossip is soon yesterday’s newspaper, bad things happen and life’s unfair, but life goes on. Now that doesn’t mean you should treat people badly, on the contrary if you do you should take responsibility for your actions, understand the other persons perspective and apologise. Life’s too short for regrets, forgive people, and forgive yourself. I recently reconnected with someone from 5 years ago who I fell out with, (you can tell I don’t waste my evenings), so it’s not too late. I made up with my flatmates so many times it became a hobby of mine eventually.
- Failure is the greatest teacher
- We’ve all done things we regret, or are embarrassed about or are even ashamed about. But we all learn from our mistakes, which in itself is a success, the only real failure is if you give up after the first hurdle. By learning from the failure, you can grow as a person and it shows you tried in the first place. In the first year I perhaps was insensitive to my flatmates, now I try to be more understanding of people and less judgemental. Failure always provides you with life lessons you can learn from, sometimes unexpected one. In my second year I sent a letter to one of my flatmates to reconcile with them, it wasn’t a success, but it made me more confident discussing my mental health, which was an unexpected benefit. Your failure doesn’t define you.
- Vulnerability and honesty are not a sign of weakness, but instead signs of strength
- In my first year I was not honest with people about how I was struggling with depression and mental health issues. The simple reason for this was because I did not want people thinking I was weak and I could not cope, in particular as a man I felt useless. I felt that people viewed men as being strong, able to cope with what life throws at them and able to tackle life head on. I was especially concerned about what girls or my family would think. But vulnerability and openness are the keys to good relationships. Being honest about whether you are struggling is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. I would encourage anyone and everyone to be honest about how they are feeling, because honestly people will admire you more, (including girls), I wish I had done it in my first year, I would have got less overwhelmed and built better support networks.
- Get a strong support Network
- Building on from number 4 is building and maintaining a strong support network. It’s not about the quantity of your relationships, but the quality. We all need people to talk to when life gets tough, so get some good friends at University, (you’ll soon realise who your true friends are), who you can be honest and open with, their support will be invaluable. A conversation can sometimes make all the difference. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of some of my friends at University. However, it is not just friends, reach out to your family and other support services. Reaching out to NTU Wellbeing, my friends and the Samaritans, helped in the past. The worst thing that depression does is make you feel like you are the problem and that you are all alone, but that’s not true, you are the victim and you are not alone, get support and let people understand what you are dealing with so they can help you.
- Forgive yourself and others
- At number six this week is forgiveness. We all make mistakes but don’t make the additional mistake I did of holding grudges against people and becoming bitter and resentful. It’s such a waste of time, it’s draining physically and mentally. Life is too short. Forgive other people because their only human, and their only young, we’re all learning and we’re all failing as we go along. None of us are perfect, including ourselves so forgive yourself as well.
- Put yourself out there and have fun
- Pretty much what it says on the tin really. University is a huge opportunity, follow your passions and interests. Join a society, pursue a hobby, go on a date, join the gym, go clubbing, read a book, go to film club, literally the possibilities are endless. Build your confidence. Just have fun and make the most of university.
For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Personal Pastoral Support at NTU (general worries and anxiety, homesickness, loneliness, a relationship breakup, or a bereavement)
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness