While university, and especially the University of Leicester, is a place unlimited in its sources of encouragement and guidance, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.
I have never once felt that I worked hard enough; I always felt I could have tried harder, I could have done something differently, and most damagingly, I thought that I should have. And after receiving my final degree results, it took me a very long time to process how they made me feel. I spent probably all of this year beating myself up about every piece of work I did or didn’t do, comparing myself with the time scale I should be at, and feeling an incessant sense of pessimism about everything I was doing for my degree. Of course I was thoroughly enjoying myself at the same time and was entirely fascinated by the subjects I was studying, I just hadn’t really faced my own inner lack of self-confidence.
The university, the criminology department and my friends and family were endlessly supportive and encouraging, and their words have reached me now as positive reminders now that I’m on the other side. And while their support certainly helped at the time, I still wasn’t anywhere close to confident about my efforts or my ability. And that is all part of our own personal journeys. A lot of my friends couldn’t understand why I wasn’t just over the moon with my results, because I got what I hoped, but we all respond differently and that’s okay too. It’s all just part of our personal learning journey.
But if I’ve learnt anything over these few months since submitting my final deadlines and since receiving my results, it’s to teach myself that even if I felt the best I gave wasn’t truly my best, it’s still okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. We all show little signs of bravery every day in just waking up, facing the day, and if you can put any of yourself into something as truly challenging as university or any piece of work as well, that’s really something to be proud of. And sometimes it can be more about what you learn along the journey than about how your efforts are recognised by exam boards and formal grading, which is important to bear in mind when we’re stressing.
And while self-challenging is certainly healthy, it’s best if it really is a positive self-challenge for more, rather than a negative reflection on what we have achieved so far. I’m going to attempt now to celebrate the little victories in everything I do; embrace the good rather than the bad and make happiness matter more.