By Simona Gorgievski
Dear 2015 Simona,
You’ve finally graduated! After changing degrees twice and getting sick for a semester you graduated two years after schedule, but you’ve graduated nonetheless. I don’t know if you could have ever imagined being on the other side, or how much you would learn and experience along the way in that first week back in February 2015. But as I delightfully learnt in a cracker TED Talk I watched last month, only because you can’t imagine something or you think it won’t ever happen in your wildest dreams, doesn’t mean it won’t. The limits of your imagination aren’t an indication of who you can become. I wish I knew that in my first week of uni.
I’ll never forget sitting in my car crying after my first day of classes. I probably would’ve repeated this crying ritual for about a month until I finally adjusted to uni life. I stumbled into my first tute late because I completely misjudged how long it took to get to uni, and then I did three laps of the building I was supposed to be in (increasingly panicking in an orderly fashion) because the room I was timetabled in obviously didn’t exist. By the fourth lap the room had appeared and been filled with a class full of people in a two-minute window of time (crazy), and I walked into a classroom full of staring eyes.
I’ll never forget sitting in my car crying after my first day of classes.
I sat down next to a girl who seemed to be like me and I tried to squeeze in any sort of relatable comment I could about our coursework or generic uni comments (“haha wow I got lost/how big is this campus/mozzies”) in an attempt to make a connection. I didn’t know anyone in my classes and I was terrified of having to go to classes and finish assignments with no one to lean on. Your lecturers are always there for course content questions, but sometimes you just need someone next to you going “I understood absolutely none of that” so you still feel like everything’s okay and you should still be enrolled in your degree.
Having watched enough college movies, I had been led to believe that this first encounter with someone of a similar demographic would lead to a Hollywood movie uni adventure and we would become best friends and then at the end of the year we would all sing in a gymnasium about how we made it and a spontaneous brass band would appear like in High School Musical.
No musical numbers, no friendship bracelets, we didn’t even hang out after class. But we got each other through first-year and at the end of the day that was all that mattered.
This girl responded politely to every generic comment I made and throughout the semester we shared notes and reminded ourselves when there was an assessment or exam coming up. But that was it! No musical numbers, no friendship bracelets, we didn’t even hang out after class. But we got each other through first-year and at the end of the day that was all that mattered. I found some wonderful friends in my second and third year so rest assured you will find your people, but not every class is going to result in some instant friendship click…and that’s okay! You just have to get each other through that semester.
I ended up getting so engrossed with my new university buddy that I waltzed out of my classroom without my new most prized possession – the business law textbook I had literally just bought.
Which leads us back to me sitting in my car crying, not being able to shake the feeling that this wasn’t for me. If I can’t keep my textbook for a full day, should I even be enrolled? But why stop there with doubts? Oh, the second-guessing I could do! Is this the right degree for me? Am I smart enough for this? What am I going to do when I graduate?
Looking back now, I know I was on exactly the right path. But at the time moving into a new chapter of my life and dealing with change from every angle made that path seem incredibly foggy.
If I could go and knock on the car window of teary 19-year-old me, I’d say this – only because something is uncomfortable or challenging, or simply just new, that doesn’t mean it’s not for you.
Only because you don’t know anyone who has done this before, doesn’t mean you can’t navigate it yourself. There is a whole system of support and resources at the uni for every aspect of your uni life – academic, psychological, financial, social, and more.
The reason this memory of crying in my car sticks out to me is not that it’s upsetting, but because looking back I can’t believe that one of the best things that ever happened to me started out with me crying about it for a fortnight. First-year me couldn’t have ever imagined how many awesome experiences I’d have throughout my degree, how many amazing people that I’d meet, and how much I’d learn. First-year me couldn’t see how much I would love my graduate job, and what all those assignments, exams, textbooks, lectures, tutes, and workshops were for.
I can’t believe that one of the best things that ever happened to me started out with me crying about it for a fortnight.
As Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
If you haven’t settled on what to trust yet, for the minute just trust in this grad. Good luck, you will be fine.
Feature Image via: University of Newcastle