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other people feel this too

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By Bex Dudley

I have been living in London for just over a week, now.

It has been a busy one. Perhaps busy is an understatement. In the last week alone, there has been tea, introductions, lots of walking, registration, induction, welcome events, a ghost bus tour, more introductions, library visits, ice skating, exploring London, a study tour, more introductions, more walking, the Tate Modern, charity fundraising, Freshers Fair, a rugby taster session, more introductions… I do not think that is even nearly comprehensive. It has been busier than busy, the type of week where you reach the end of each day and think back over it, then think that could not really have been this morning!

Freshers week, or at least, Freshers week as I have experienced it, has been a weird one. Full of people and socialising, above anything else- meeting people, chatting, the same conversations over and over as you try to navigate what seems to be a whole city of new people. What’s your name? Are you an undergrad? First year? What course? Halls? Which ones? Where are you from? It has also been full of a lot of happiness and laughter. There have been some fantastic things- ice skating, a Bake Off party, making dinner with my flatmate, chatting and laughing with new people who just seem to click. It’s been a great week, and I know that. However, there have been some darker moments too, and I think that’s what makes it so weird, because those times seem so at odds with the rest of it. There have been times- particularly the evenings/nights- when everything else seems to dissipate, leaving a wonderful mixture of sadness and exhaustion and loneliness and anxiety. I have spent so much time wondering whether I will ever really feel comfortable here, whether I have really made the right choice, whether the people I am missing could ever possibly miss me half as much as I miss them, whether it is worse when the people I am missing are sad (and I can’t hold them) or when they’re happy (and I can’t celebrate with them), whether this city will ever feel anything like home, whether I will ever stop feeling so tired, whether it is just me feeling this way.

It is because of this last one, I think, that I am so resolute in writing this blog post. Experience with mental health has proven to me, time and time again, that other people feel this too. So, although social media is full of happy smiling faces, I am guessing, there are other people feeling a lot like me, asking the same questions, curled up on their respective uni beds, feeling that odd sense of loneliness when one is surrounded by hundreds of people. To all those people, this is me saying, I am here. I am feeling this. And actually, I think this is ‘normal’. I think we are, probably, the majority- no matter what social media seems to be implying. And, I think, eventually we will be okay. We just need to make it through this bit, utilising whatever support and strength we have, focusing on the out breaths.

I think, too, it is important to say that Freshers is not a one size fits all experience. I have not been out clubbing once this week. I like it enough- but I do not always deal well with crowded spaces and dark lights and alcohol/hangovers and people I don’t know, and I need to be settled somewhere, and with people I know very well, in order to enjoy it. I have been feeling the pressure to go clubbing, because that has seemed to be the ‘point’ of Freshers. However, I have also been self-aware, and realised that clubbing really isn’t what I need right now. Maybe I am ‘missing out’, maybe I’m not getting the ‘true Freshers experience’. I’m not so sure though. I know I’ve had a great week, even if it hasn’t involved drinking and dancing every night. I’ve quite definitely had a better week than I would have had had I forced myself to do something I really don’t feel comfortable doing. This is another reach out, to anyone in a similar position, to say it’s okay. We’re okay. We’re making this work for us, and that’s more than okay, that’s beautiful, because we are beautiful.

I think, what I am trying to say, most of all, is that is has been a very brilliant week- but that there have been wobbly times too. And that is okay. You belong here, and everything you feel is okay.

This blog was originally published on Bex’s personal blog here: https://itsbexnotrebecca.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/other-people-feel-this-too/

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