Alone but not lonely

Georgia Smith- Picture

By Georgia Smith

In recent years, more and more news reports are recommending that freshers going to university ditch their partners before they even leave home, encouraged to not delay the heartache of an inevitable breakup. The most recent being UCAS suggesting that people “leave their high school boyfriends/girlfriends behind” in order to gain the real uni “experience”- this experience being getting pissed and getting into bed with strangers from clubs.

I almost wish I had taken that advice and made sure that when I moved away from home I left that part of my life behind. It was quite brutal the way in which myself and my ex split, I had been living in halls for a total of 36 hours (specific, I know) when I decided that I didn’t need my boyfriend of eight months anymore. I fell in love with the idea of being young, single and free…so naturally, like every teenager, I went looking for excitement in some questionable places (like Bamboo’s R&B room).

At university there is a lot of maturing and “living” to be done, but having a boyfriend/girlfriend back home might be keeping you tied down from these new experiences. Distance away also brings unwelcomed feelings of jealousy, the fear of being left behind and infidelity.

I thankfully never experienced such feelings so I decided to ask people I knew had managed the seemingly impossible. My friend Kim Telfer, 21, who has just finished her nursing degree at UWS has been with her girlfriend before and after the ‘uni’ experience. She didn’t deny that due to the workload and the multiple of placements she had that it did put a strain, at times, on their relationship, but they have managed to come out at the end stronger and more in love than ever. Beautiful right?

If you’re like me and just couldn’t make it work and needed time to “find yourself” then uni is the best place to be doing so.

I met my boyfriend in my first year during fresher’s week due to living in quite close proximity to each other, we were in the same friend group, had the same classes and all my friends say it was “meant to be”. That might be so, but there is no denying that a new relationship and all the stresses of 3rd year, and now 4th, hasn’t been a complete walk in the park. Being in similar classes kicked off a rivalry that I didn’t expect, especially when he was doing better than me in assignments he had started and finished the night before they were due(!). Also, realising that there will be some weeks where you can’t even spend a few hours together due to uni/work/family commitments, disclaimer- all the arguing in the world can’t do anything to change that.

If anything the fact that we don’t always have time for each other has been beneficial, there’s nothing worse than completely depending on one person’s company, it’s detrimental to not only your own mental health but it can be draining on a relationship and the person you are with. Prioritising uni over your relationship is 100% okay, you should never feel guilty for putting your future first and if your partner doesn’t understand that then there needs to be serious conversations.

Unlike any other relationship however, I’ve found my mental health has somewhat improved, I’ve been able to talk more openly about my worries surrounding coursework, friendships, etc. with someone who is also experiencing similar issues and concerns about university. Before I found myself bottling up a lot of my concerns leading to quite severe anxiety which stopped me from doing my best academically. Having the reassurance that I’m not the only one has been really beneficial and I have my relationship to thank for that.

It is possible to have the best uni experience, a relationship and maintain your sanity. But, I won’t sugar coat it, it is difficult, you just have to do what’s best for you. Just remember, you don’t need a relationship to be happy, you can find your own happiness, being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.

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