Right now, as I begin my third year of university, I feel as if I am barely hanging on to the edge of a rocky cliff (Lion King style) with a voice inside my head (Scar) telling me I’m not good enough to accomplish everything I want to at Mount Allison and beyond. This is an extremely difficult feeling to work through, especially considering the sheer amount of work I have to do. I don’t have time for these feelings, and I know I’m not the only one.
Mt. A has a culture of perfectionism. Many of us don’t feel good enough and are convinced everyone else has it all figured out. So many of us spread ourselves too thin, trying to live up to someone else’s narrative, to be as “put together” as someone else.
It’s not sustainable to live someone else’s life. Know that the person you are cannot be defined solely by your own perfectionism, or by what you see in other people’s lives (because I’m pretty sure that all the professors in your introduction classes will tell you that they are not a scholarly source and will not count in your bibliography).
First year is about figuring stuff out. Part of that learning experience is making mistakes. It is more than okay to miss a reading, or a lecture, or to have a bad assignment/class (or three). Take this time to find:
- Where you work best (whether it be the library, Student Centre, your dorm, etc.).
- Who you work best with (do you prefer to talk over assignments with classmates or to work alone?).
- The times you work best (the answer to this one is not the night before, by the way).
- How you best cope with the stresses of university.
First year is terrifying, but feelings of perfectionism, inadequacy, stress, anxiety – you name it – can be reduced by:
- Being yourself.
- Figuring out how YOU manage university. First year is about finding out how you can be your best at university (and also about having fun)!
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is that you need to define your life at Mt. A for yourself. You need to define the parameters of your life and your studies for yourself. Remind yourself that if (and probably when! I’ve been there!) you don’t live up to your expectations for an assignment/class/semester/year, it is okay.
This is the time to make mistakes. This is the time to grow. Take time to figure out who you are. Perhaps, on your journey at Mt. A, you’ll find that this isn’t the place for you, and that is okay too. Make decisions for your life with yourself in mind.