It’s strange to think that I completed my self-taught Psychology degree with The Open University nearly 4 years ago now. I graduated with a decent grade, too. But it wasn’t the end result that counted so much. As cliche as it sounds, it was the achievement. The fact that I had stuck with it and come out the other side. And I learned far more than what was in the textbooks.
I came close to throwing the towel in on a handful of occasions. It got too much, too hard, I was too scared of failing. What if I just give up now, save myself the heartache?
Things got tough because what I used to be good at I was starting to struggle with. My concentration was shot. My memory wasn’t what it was. My thoughts weren’t sharp. Paired with increasingly ill health, I wasn’t sleeping well, I lost my social life and I started becoming more introverted. My degree worsened my anxiety, but it also helped me through an incredibly tough patch. It gave me something to aim for, something to wake up for in the mornings, something to structure my day around. It gave me a sense of purpose and accomplishment; it reminded me that I’m capable of more than I realise.
- Getting organised – Making sure things were tidy, easy to find and well laid out kept things more succinct in my mind and made it easier for me to tackle each day.
- To do lists – Not sure I could have survived without these! Good old sticky notes and scraps of paper with prioritised things to do; tasks needed to be concise and manageable to make them less daunting.
- Vent – Instead of having worries build up, find someone to confide in. A friend, tutor, fellow student, parent, partner. A problem shared is a problem halved (I’m liking the cliches today!)
- Take a break – Take enough small breaks throughout the day. Stretch, keep your fluids up, eat well, go for a walk & get some fresh air. Set a 10 minute break for watching funny videos. Plan a day for hanging out and having some fun, catch a movie, a milkshake, take photos in the park; just get some space from your thinking and your work every now and then.
- Remember – Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling or you get a mark or a comment that wasn’t what you had hoped for. Learn from mistakes, ask yourself how important it is in the grand scheme of life, dust yourself off and pick yourself up. You’re stronger and more resilient than you may think.
- Remind yourself of your awesomeness – What are your strengths? Smart, capable, persevering, compassionate, thoughtful, funny, interesting, analytical, a good friend; you’re unique and one of a kind! There’s more to life than your degree, but now you’re at it you have got what it takes to do your best and see it through, and your best is always good enough.
What do I regret? Strangely enough, I regret not enjoying it more. Granted, a self-taught degree from home is a rather different landscape to a brick and mortar university. I feel like I missed out on that experience. But more so, I feel like I held myself back. I was too focused and too stressed. Too obsessed by the end goal rather than delighting in simply ‘being a student‘. I didn’t look after myself well enough, I worried, I overworked and then regretted it because it didn’t help my physical health and it certainly didn’t help my anxiety levels. Nothing is worth damaging yourself for.
The challenges you faced throughout your degree don’t stop when your studying ends. Hold tight to what you learn about your life and yourself during University. Use it to face the world head on and remember that you are capable, intelligent, hard working and kick ass!
Wanted to give a massive thank you to Caz for writing the post for me, please check her out over on InvisiblyMe where I have also had the honouring of doing a guest post for her!