You’ve already looked up when the mid-semester break is, Hunger Games-style class registrations have been fought and you’ve probably walked to one end of the campus only to realise your class is actually at the other. Yep, university is back for another gruelling and exhausting yet equally rewarding year! However for the first time in 15 years, my ride-or-die Natalie Brown and I aren’t going back to the books. We’ve finally graduated after spending three years learning how to be journalists. Throughout that time we’ve lent on each other for support, advice and words of wisdom – even when we both knew we were basically the blind leading the blind. Along with our respective mothers, we became each other’s biggest cheerleaders. When we weren’t conducting therapy sessions or Ted Talks to each other in person over coffee, we were trading pieces of advice over Facebook Messenger. Now, we’d like to share those home truths – and some cute as heck hand-drawn emojis – with you. So sit tight and grab a pen and a cuppa, because we’re about to supportively school you.
Note: Natalie’s advice are the grey bubbles, while mine are the blue. In a very sappy but expected turn of events, multiple nuggets of wisdom we individually picked were things we were told from the other person, *cries*.
Life-long friendships. Marks you’re really bloody proud of. Incredible overseas exchanges. Terrifying yet invaluable prac-courses. Real-world internships. University balls where you jump in heels for two hours straight and enter a state of euphoria with the rest of your cohort when the DJ plays The Veronica’s Untouched. ALL things both Natalie and I got out of university because we went for them. So say yes to that overseas exchange email, sign up for those prac-courses, buy that uni ball ticket, say hello to the girl sitting next to you.
If given the option to tattoo any 10 words on my eyeballs, these are the ones I would choose (and they came courtesy of Jess and are potentially the most important I will ever hear). So many times over my degree, I would doubt myself when it came to completing a task, and make out like there were all these barriers between where I was and actually getting the job done. Turns out, there was only one barrier: fear. And everything that I wanted was on the other side. There are people less qualified than you doing the things you want to do simply because they decided to believe in themselves. So do just that: believe in yourself. You’re never going to be 100 percent ready. Do it anyway. There is such a pressure in our society to constantly be ‘hustling’. When you aren’t studying, you should be working. When you’re not working, you should be investing in your side-hustle. Don’t forget to exercise too, and catch up with friends and family. Also don’t forget to eat. And sleep. And do your laundry. Did you want a relationship with that order, too? Sorry, we’re all out. Enough! Life is not a competition on who can do the most in the race to burning out. Learn when to cut back. Don’t try and juggle too many balls. Take the pressure off yourself. Taking a rest is not giving up.
A television cameraman told me this in the one week of my entire degree I was most nervous for, and it’s one of those things someone says to you without even realising they’ve given you a piece of advice you’ll value forever. Leandra Medine said motherhood is a bit like climbing a mountain, and the same could be said about university: when you look up at the top, you wonder how the hell you’re going to get up there. If it’s even possible. You’ll convince yourself it’s not and just keep distracting yourself at the bottom, but if you just do what you know how to do, put one foot in front of the other and keep taking steps, you get there. And when you make it to the top (because you will), you’ll look back down and wonder why you ever doubted that you could.
Picture it: second year, International Journalism. Along with completing weekly modules, we’re tasked with creating a portfolio of article about international events. Topics other students are writing about; Trump, terrorism, abortion. Topics I’m writing about; drag queens, Eurovision, problematic male beauty gurus. I never thought these ideas were ‘sophisticated‘ enough, so pitching to my tutor was always a mix of ‘I know so much about this and exactly who to interview’ ruined by a ‘but, like, it’s not that important I dunno hahaha.’ Nah! Back yourself! My tutor gave me the go ahead and I ended up getting a High Distinction for the entire unit. It made me realise my interests aren’t trivial, and that I’m not stupid for liking them. Natalie told me this, and it’s always stuck with me.
Throughout your entire degree, you’ll be presented with opportunities, and you’ll question whether you’re qualified enough to take them. It’s true what they say – imposter syndrome is real, and for me hit hardest during my internships. Working alongside people I’d admired for years, I felt like a total fraud until Jess reminded me that I’d earned the right to be there through my own hard work. I just needed to remind myself – and show them – why.
This only hit me recently after graduating. Before and during university, it felt (rightly so) like a “big deal.” And it is. And then you graduate. And it’s just another step in whatever direction you’re heading in. Another box ticked. Sure, it’s an expensive box to tick, but that degree under your belt now carries the same weight as having industry connections, or some great hands on experience. While this realisation made me feel defeated at first, its also feels incredibly freeing in a way. University is not the end at all – there is so much more ahead of you, and that’s exciting.
Worry begets worry and positive thinking begets positive thinking. There were more times than I can count on two hands over the past three years where it felt like the entire world was against me, all because one thing might’ve gone wrong. Turns out – the whole world wasn’t against me. The only thing against me was myself. It’s good to be a realist, but when you’ve gotten a bad grade, or are having issues with a relationship, or just have had a shit of a day, sometimes you need to don a pair of rose-coloured glasses and see the glass as half-full. I promise that if you do, everything will seem easier. You have to see the miracles for there to be miracles. When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubts. You steer the ship. And it’s your rocket.