I don’t regret uni, but I say that with a bit of surprise because I definitely messed myself up having not done a load of things that well, or at all. Here are some of those things.
A quick reminder that this is absolutely a personal list of things that I, myself, should have done in uni and not in any way a critique on anyone else’s uni experience - although if you’re feeling a little probed then perhaps you should take a breather and look at your habits.
I still can’t exercise, especially on my own. I’m terrified. I couldn’t tell you why, but I feel like if I could have gotten into it socially with company when I had more chances to, I wouldn’t be so nervous about it now. Or maybe the issue is deeper than that, but either way, I had at least a handful of chances to get into exercise, socially or otherwise, and I didn’t take any of them. I had an accompanying gym membership several times into my degrees, and, me being a fool, absolutely did nothing with them.
When you’re 18 you feel invincible. A couple of sleepless nights? No problem. Working on a uni project for three days without sleeping? Easy as. Drink all night and also do assessments at the same time? Thanks Hemingway. Watch 2 seasons of Scrubs without any breaks at all? Excellent sleep over plans. Was it ultimately worth it? Lol. Sleep is such a precious resource of youth, like the absence of back pain.
3. Spend time alone
I’m a spectacular seeker of company. Less so now than ever before, but my younger constant desire to be around other people ended up just being a coping mechanism for my issues to stay unresolved. I’ve often caught myself wondering if I’d be or how different I would be now if I had learned earlier to enjoy my own company. The eventual value I have found in spending time alone has been immeasurable and I occasionally think that if I had started my hours earlier then I could have arrived at so many different places of myself sooner.
Not only could I not manage to do a single drop of exercise in my late teens/early adulthood, I didn’t even bother to stretch any parts of my body. Can you image the face my physiotherapist made when she touched my arm, or neck, or back for the first time? (Hint @ you: it was as though all the years of pain that I had gotten used to suddenly came crashing down on me and she personally could feel it. Hint @ me: it’s probably time to book another physiotherapy session.)
Holy shit, guys. I can’t begin to explain how messed up my uni experience was. It took me leaving for a year, not working in the industry, multiple breakdowns and several dangerous situations to start therapy at all. Now when people in the same degree as the one I attended ask me anything about the course it’s hard to know what to say, because the course is different now. It definitely has room for improvement but it's also definitely better now than it used to be. Either way, my time there could have used the help that therapy eventually gave me which I clearly don’t shut up about. Some of the things that happened could have used the interference of a professional. Some of the bad habits and reliances that I piled onto people who couldn’t have possibly helped me could have been redirected into professionally assisted efforts to grow some good mental health habits.
6. Tell people I felt like shit without joking about it
This is a biggie, and the result of learning how to do exactly that. I was incapable of actually being vulnerable so I used to reveal the vulnerability with jokes instead and it was… such a waste of effort. I was clearly in a bad place, and it was obvious to everyone around me. The strain of not talking about something that everyone had already realised took a huge toll on my physical and mental health. If you feel like shit, be serious about it. It’s the beginning of asking for help.
It's odd. I didn't regret the degree. There's a lot of other things I've processed since then. Maybe the regret will come later.
I've learned to ask for help. I've learned to prioritise sleep. It's hard to learn this stuff until you do what's bad for you I guess... but it's hard to not feel as though I should have known. I'm still working through that.