Two months ago, I moved across the country. I’d only just finished high school, was three weeks into being eighteen, and was about to embark on a fresh academic challenge. Safe to say, I was bricking it.
As I was plunged into this bizarre, uplifting, surreal world of university, so were thousands of other people across the country, across the world. These included my friends from home, my new flatmates, people I might meet over the next three years and people I will never meet.
I’d like to talk about something I’ll refer to as common courage.
I see courage as persevering despite a feeling of fear, and coming out better as a result.
And everyone I knew, didn’t know, or hadn’t met was going through this similar experience. We all shared a common courage.
I was able to talk to my friends from back home, most of whom had chosen to go to uni themselves. We were separated by many, many miles, but could still easily relate to each others struggles and successes in our new, academically-driven lives. We were all nervous, but that small commonality - the idea we were all going through it together - made it feel a little bit better.
I was scared of starting university: I will admit it. Obviously I was excited as well, and felt like it would be the right thing for me. But it didn’t stop me from being terrified. What if I don’t make any friends? What if I find the course too hard? What if it’s boring?
Reflecting on all this, just shy of eight weeks in, seems really strange. These emotions and fears all seem to belong to a past version of myself, someone I recognise but don’t quite know. She is the same person I see as belonging back in my hometown.
And this is the thing. Having the courage to get past your fear, or to delve into a situation, or just embrace what is going on can really change you. But I think this change is always for the better. Courage can help you grow and learn more about yourself and, most importantly, more about what matters to you.
There are two key improvements I think I’ve experienced in myself since starting this new chapter of my life.
Firstly, I’ve stopped (almost) the time-consuming and spiraling habit of comparing myself, CONSTANTLY, to everyone around me. I used to see social media solely as a platform to put myself down, given that everyone else always seemed to be cruising through life much better than I was. Now, I see it as a platform for expression and as a way to keep in contact with those I’m close to from home. It provides me with a source for courage.
Secondly, I am incredibly proud of the courage it took me to choose my course and actually go through with studying it. I study Architecture, and before university, I was absolutely terrified of how I’d be able to cope with the design work. I have never studied art or design in my life, and all this lingo - from ‘portfolio’ to ‘perspectives’ - seemed so foreign to me. But I’ve tried my best to learn and really feel like I’m making progress on this aspect of my work.
I am so glad I threw myself into the first few weeks of university. I’m proud of myself and I’m also so proud of all my friends who are doing the same.
I think courage has the power to change people. It has the power to change us. It has the power to change you.