I’m graduating in two weeks (in case you missed that memo), and I’ve spent quite a lot of the last month reflecting on my time at university both by myself and with friends. Though the ‘with friends’ is really more reminiscing of how easy first year was compared to this year, and a load of ‘do you remember x?’-s. It’s weird because both situations have brought up quite a few things that I regret not doing (or doing, actually), which made me feel a little bit low and a lot unmotivated until I realised that these university regrets of mine are not actually that bad a thing to be having.
See, regretting things that you could’ve done is just drawing up a list of things you’re still yet to do. For the most part, anyway. A few of the regrets I have I’m intending to use as a forewarning to all the freshers going this year. As in:
1) make lots of friends in your first year (regardless of if you’re going on a year abroad or not)
I think this is possibly the biggest regret I have? Doing such a niche degree, with a tiny, tiny intake meant that I was seeing a lot of the same people day in day out. I decided to also join a pretty practice heavy sport in first year and I never really felt I gelled with a lot of the squad because of the fact I was jetting off at the end of the year to explore Seoul, and didn’t have much time to really go to a lot of the socials. So my social circles were: flat, course, cheer. Definitely could’ve widened that by joining a few other societies and being less scared that people wouldn’t bother with me because a) ‘weird’ degree and b) Korea. It’s a lot harder to come back from the YA and make a load of new friends because going into your 3rd year while everyone else is also probably doing that means friendship groups are already formed and it can feel a lot more intimidating.
From this I’ve learned to just do the thing. Meet people, make friends. Or acquaintances, or people that you know who are up/down for doing things and exploring. The beauty of adulthood is that you can pick and choose who you actually want to hang out with, and nurture those relationships. Everyone also gets that everyone else is busy and that guilt-tripping thing doesn’t happen as often.
2) learning how to be ‘on your own’ and enjoy your own company is a very useful skill to learn
One of the other things I wish I’d done more of was exploring on my own, or being ok with exploring/being on my own. I’m pretty sure it’s tied to being a more extroverted person and definitely enjoying the company of other people, but there are time when I’ve definitely missed out on doing things or going to places because no one at that moment wanted to go with me. I took a pretty big confidence knock during Korea, and it wasn’t really until the last two months where I felt like I was regaining the smallest amount of what I was before that time, and it’s only been this last 10 months where I’ve actually got back to myself.
Now I’m actually starting to make more solo trips to places in the UK (baby steps) and actually enjoy being a bit of a tourist and exploring by myself, and the only thing that stops me going is the bank balance.
3) I regret not working really hard in first year
A flaw of mine that I’ve rectified a great deal since returning to the UK is the fact I used to be really complacent about my talents/abilities. I never found GCSE’s particularly challenging, and full blown complacency hit at a-level with a vengeance. Somehow I muddled through, but it carried on over into 1st year, and I definitely regret not doing regular work. Like, really, regret. It made lots of things so much harder, and lots of people really frustrated with me – having people you really respect really frustrated with you is Not A Fun Time.
It’s also something that I never want to have again in my work. I’ve made a massive conscious effort to keep growing and improving my skill set, my grades, myself as a person, because complacent is something I don’t ever want to be described as. That regret has made me a much more driven person.
4) I regret not getting everything in writing
I almost forgot about this until my dad reminded me, and it’s kind of more a family regret than solely mine, but definitely a lesson I have learned and will never make the mistake of forgetting. Getting everything in writing, be it contracts, agreements, decisions, verbal communication… get it in writing. The amount of agony this has caused me over the last academic year… it has been painful. So very very painful.
5) I regret not documenting more of my time in Korea
There are lots of things I regret re: Korea – to the point where I’d actually take the chance at a do-over and change so many things – but the largest is definitely how little I actually documented of my time there. I’m not talking daily-vlog level document, but I went out there with my shitty galaxy s3mini phone camera as the only one really (the aim was to get one during my stay), and my polaroid, but it’s hardly something to film with. As it happens, I really wasn’t in the right headspace or circumstances to begin with anyway, so it’s probably fine that I didn’t get a camera I could use to document things with until February of 2014 – but I do often wonder how different it would’ve been if I’d’ve just done the thing and got a decent camera before I flew out, or within the first two months of being there. Korea presents a whole host of ‘what if’ scenarios though, so I try not to dwell on them too much.
Not having that back-catalogue of Korea times has made me so much thirstier for travel though. Like, good, decent, wonderful travel experiences that are, admittedly, fab for the blog, but mostly for me. When you’ve had an opportunity you couldn’t live to its full potential for whatever reason, it makes you so much hungrier to try again and maximise it.
Now that I’m out of whatever post-exam funk I fell into, and I have my degree results, my biggest regrets are becoming my biggest motivators to grab this employment lark by the proverbial balls and just go for it.
Do you have any regrets from your uni days (/earlier uni years), or that you’ve used to motivate yourself? Let me know~