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7 Life Lessons from an almost-graduate

By Ellie Rochell

This year I’m graduating university and if I were to compare who I am now with the person I was at the beginning of my degree, the differences would be countless. University, and the early stages of adult life are big learning curves, a time where we start new journeys and discover more about ourselves and the world.

The past year and a half in particular has been a massive learning experience for myself, and I wanted to share some of the main lessons I’ve learnt in this time.

You can’t make people like you

This may be distressing news to fellow people-pleasers like myself, but you truly cannot control the opinions of others, especially those held about you. Whilst this can be difficult to understand, it isn't an excuse to treat people with any less kindness. Letting yourself to be free from worrying whether someone likes or dislikes you will allow you to be more true to yourself, in-turn letting you achieve some inner peace.

Focussing on yourself is the best way to move forward

This is such a talked about topic, but it’s absolutely true. Even if it’s focussing on yourself in the most simple ways by putting an hour aside each week to do something just for you (going to your favourite cafe, getting your nails done or listening to a podcast). This is some time to spend with yourself, to think about you and all you want to achieve and really get in touch with your emotions.

You need to stop worrying about what/how everyone else is doing

Obviously when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your close friends and family it is completely warranted to worry, but there’s a point where it can become all-encompassing. We live in an age where we can know what someone is doing no matter where they are, this is great but it can also be damaging. We are the first generations expected to keep in contact with friends, family and colleagues 24/7/365, and this can put you in a place of constant worry. So, it is vital to be a little bit selfish sometimes, you need to focus on the here and the now. Further than this, comparing your success to someone else's will never excel you any further. Instead, focussing on your own goals and achievements will leave you far more fulfilled.

If you’re struggling, let someone know

Now, I won't claim that I’m excellent at this, but it is something I truly believe can make the biggest difference in recovery. No matter how minor you may think something you’re going through is, it’s super important to let a friend, relative, colleague or trusted person know. This person can show you the bigger picture, making you feel a lot less alone.

It’s normal to not get along with your friends/housemates all the time

From personal experience, living with new people can be super challenging but even after a few years (for example your third year of university), it can still be difficult at times. The longer you live with some people, the higher tensions can get but this is perfectly normal. Knowing and understanding this is vital for being able to manage these situations when they arise. Being able to identify when this is happening and allowing yourself to take a step back and avoid conflict will not only benefit you, but the others you live with.

Being in-tune with your body is vital

Your body nurtures and carries you around everyday, so understanding what your body is trying to tell you can define your physical and mental health. One way to do this is by taking note of emotions, pains or sensations and noting what happens in the hours or days following, or even what has occurred in the past day. This kind of tracking has allowed me to discover a lot about what’s good and bad for my body. I've been able to address what my body does when it’s dehydrated, burnt out, overtired and stressed. This means I know what to do to help myself feel better, something which can be stressful and exhausting when you’re just not sure what’s wrong.

Happiness is just one emotion

Now this is a recent finding for me after listening to Emma Neill’s podcast, but it couldn’t be more true. We tend to constantly pressure ourselves to be infinitely happy individuals, when in reality happiness is one emotion of hundreds. It’s far more realistic to strive for contentedness -this could be considered an emotion, but I prefer to see it as a state of mind. Aiming to be content with what you have and what you feel will ultimately be much easier to achieve, this will stop the lifelong ‘search’ for happiness. Accepting that your emotions aren’t always within your control will give you more freedom, less anxiety and allow you to make progress within your life and daily encounters.

These are just a few examples of lessons I’ve learnt over the past couple years. I'm sure I could list more if I thought about it but these represent my current progress. Don’t fret or panic if these are things you don’t feel like you’ve come to terms with, everyone is on their own journey, give yourself time and understanding.

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