After the excitement and euphoria of Fresher’s week, reality soon catches up with you. You have what I call that “Wizard of Oz” moment. This is that moment where you realize that you are most definitely not in college any more and neither are you a kid any longer.
I think this is something that obviously isn’t just exclusive to studying Law; uni life is definitely a huge leap.
Despite the best efforts made to make you feel welcome, settled and ready, no one can really tell you the best way to take notes in a way that you will understand and suit you. No one can really show you the things that are relevant against those that may not be. It’s not like college where topics are revisited over and over again. Or where things are more or less spelt out for you and you know what you need to know to pass the exam. [Warning you actually have to work things out for yourself]. It feels as if you’ve suddenly gone from taking baby steps, then being entered to run in an Olympic sized marathon.
Soon the work starts piling up, and you sit in lectures half the term totally zoned out, or Four Lions style, you catch yourself Snap Chatting and realize you have your confused face permanently on.
And sometimes you will hit a moment, usually when there’s an important deadline coming up, where you panic. You think can I actually do this. Will I pass, what if I fail, what if admissions got it wrong and I slipped through the net etc.
Some people bottle it up, for some it might end up in hysterical stress crying at 3am in the morning.
Of course no one ever really ever wants to admit to being weak or overwhelmed. And from personal experience gained through listening to friends, this projected perception may result in a sense of feeling alone in the struggle. But of course that isn’t really true. No matter how you may feel now, it’s important to remember that year in year out across the country and the world people go through their first year of uni. And at one point or another, they will have hit a blip. Another thing to remember is that, although it is evidently hard, the first year isn’t designed to be impossible. Yes some may drop out or fail, however the majority pass.
In my experience I’ve learnt so far that sometimes it is good to let it all out as cliché as it might sound. However, the hardest thing I’ve had to learn is that sometimes I have to take a step back and not do any work. Sometimes rather than try and cram in more work I have to say “No Lorraine, enough is enough.”
Procrastination isn’t taking a break
Sometimes when I’m doing a load of reading or work, I inevitably find myself on Buzzfeed or YouTube. This usually occurs when I tell myself I’m taking a ‘five minute break’, and then it turns into five hours. And I end up feeling guilty for not sticking to my guns. One thing I have learnt from this is that procrastination isn’t taking a valid break, because of that guilt I will feel like I have to work more, and then I end up burning myself out even more.
Personally, I have learnt the hard way that sometimes I actually have to set some time out, where I don’t do any work at all. I am that kind of person who usually feels like I always have to be doing something and be productive. However, I have to listen to my body and understand that my brain can only take so much. Even if the stressy perfectionist side of me is telling me otherwise.
Yes you might feel overloaded with work and like there is not enough time, but at the end of the day your health should also be a number one priority too. And sometimes that actually involves taking a step back and sleeping before 5am.
I would also advise you to do something totally unrelated to your subject, and take up a hobby. For example, I’ve recently been trying to teach myself guitar, and I find it helps to distress. Sometimes I read or write something totally unrelated to law, otherwise you end up feeling like you’re just stuck in one type of world. And the more you are around something that’s part of the stress, the less it will help. At times this may also involve simply just taking a walk or hanging out with your friends.
I think the most important point I am trying to make is; find balance, be realistic and give yourself a break.