“My university story: Why being yourself is sometimes the hardest thing in life and that the best advice I can give you is to not take advice”

I remember my first day when I first entered my room in halls. My whole family of 15 (cousins included by the way) were sitting in my tiny room, reassuring my mum that her little socially awkward son isn’t leaving her permanently. Now after 3 years I look back on university, not so much at how quickly time has passed, but more in how much things have changed. The picture above should show the dramatic transformation I’ve made over the years in my appearance from high school, so you can only imagine how much I’ve developed mentally over the past couple of years.

After finishing my final year of education, I’ve become nostalgic over the last few years. This includes the regrets I’ve made with people, particularly with the opposite sex, the drunken mistakes that I think everyone is guilty of and the potential friends I may have lost along the way.  However, it also includes some of my most unforgettable experiences, the funniest and stupidest moments I will always remember along with some of the best people that I’ve had the pleasure in meeting. But most importantly it’s the lessons that I’ve learnt that I will value the most out of university.

The most important lesson that I learnt from university was from someone I met this year. “The best advice I could give is not to take advice and to be yourself.” It hit me because I realised then how many times I’ve tried imitating others to achieve the results that they get and I may not be the only one who’s been guilty of doing this either. But I think it’s also a very easy thing to say to be yourself but much harder to apply in real life. For someone like me, it always seemed that being myself was one of my biggest obstacles in life. It was even more difficult when I saw that all the things that were apparently normal for people were hard for me to do, but came easy and naturally to others around me. This ranged from drinking and going on nights out, to holding a conversation about certain topics and even getting along with people, which was frankly uncomfortable.

But I’ve understood now that you can’t stop trying to be yourself and you’ll exhaust yourself trying to pretend to the world to be something that you’re not. Everyone has to forge their own path, regardless of what your friends or family think or of what the social norm demands. I guess long story short is that from university I’ve finally become more comfortable with myself and with who I am and it’s something that’s taken me a while to finally achieve.

There’s one article here in journals of the world that stated that the quality of a university is not determined by the people it takes in, but more by the quality of individuals it produces. This is relatable as I believe that I needed to go Birmingham more than any other city or university to help become the man I hope to be one day. It’s helped enormously with my personal development with my social skills and in knowing what I want to achieve in life. However, I also believe from going to university that you are destined to meet certain people but only in certain stages in your life. The best friends that you have at university now may not have been even the people you’d have associated yourselves with at school.

So what is the message from my pointless rambling? Nothing. The best advice I can give is to not take any and to be yourself. Contradictory I know, but like English GCSE I leave it there for you so that you can interpret your own meaning from it, so that it can help you in your life in whatever way it can.

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