This is the time of year when many people have just received their A-level results and have got a place at university. It might not be their first choice, but nevertheless they are excited to move to uni, even if a little apprehensive.
This time two years ago however, the excitement of going to university had been overridden by feelings of inadequacy because of my mental health problems. For a while, I had been battling anxiety and anorexia and was told by my doctors that I wasn’t well enough to go to university that year. I had been so determined to get the grades I needed, that I had forgotten to put myself and my health first. I was really upset not to be going to university and worried that being a year older would make me stand out. But I began to realise that there wasn’t actually any rush to get to uni and in fact, I stood a better chance of staying well and having a more fun experience if I took some time to tend to my needs and focus on recovery. I then decided to contact my university and defer my place.
Despite it sometimes being difficult seeing all of my friends having a great time at their universities and feeling as if I was ‘doing nothing compared to them’, taking a year out was the best thing I could have done. I learnt more about myself in that year alone than all of the previous years of my life put together. Receiving therapy also helped me to find ways of coping with both my mental illness and everyday life. I felt so much more equipped when I did eventually go to university and my fears of being different were soon left behind when I realised that university is a place of diversity, full of people of all different ages and backgrounds.
A crucial part of my recovery has been learning to love and accept myself for who I am and to not compare my life to other people’s. It is certainly easier said than done, but to help, I started writing a list of achievements and things I am proud of in my life, no matter how big or small I thought they were. I also learnt that things don’t always plan out as we had hoped and that can be really disappointing, but by accepting my situation, I was able to overcome the feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction and be proud of everything I HAD achieved.
It might be that you, too, need to take some time out for health reasons, or maybe you’ve decided that university just isn’t for you. But that’s OK. I know so many people who haven’t gone to university, but are doing really well and, most importantly, are happy. We all have our own individual stories to tell and just because yours is different to someone else’s, it doesn’t make it any less valid or impressive! So next time you start comparing yourself to others, please remember that every single one of you is unique and UNIQUE IS BEAUTIFUL! 💕
Onwards and upwards,
Rose Anne xx