photo creds to Yossy who aside from being an amazing photographer is also one of the best and nicest friends one could ever ask for. thank you. 

I've been doing a whole load of self discovery since coming to university and I've learnt a lot about myself and who I really am. Kinda like a gap yah but condensed into 3 months and obviously missing the main principal of a gap year which is the time away from education. Whilst I have clearly not taken a gap year to compare the past few months with, I honestly do believe that I have come out of the end of the term as a new person. Of course there's the generic "I learnt how to cook, do laundry and clean a bathroom" which is definitely a massive achievement for me considering how 'untrained' I was, to put it in the words of my mum who was in awe and disbelief when she came home to a fully cleaned home on Wednesday lol.

But of course, trivial things aside. I've managed to learn a lot about myself: how I am not in fact as introverted as I thought I was and how I really do crave human attention and socialising, how I can easily slip and isolate myself and fester away in my room in a pit of despair and self-hatred, how I am so quick to discredit my own achievements, how bloody anxious I am, how scared I am to admit that I'm not feeling good and that life isn't happy for me at all.

These are all things I would've never thought I would find out about myself. I'd always held the perception of myself being quiet, shy, reserved and introverted- someone who prefers to be alone and would rather not socialise. Being at university and subjecting myself to these self-appointed views of who I am/should be essentially ended up as the biggest fuck up downfall ever. This isolation and lack of self-belief made a seriously lethal combination which culminated in 3 weeks of absolute hell and pain. I don't think I had ever felt so down and the term 'prolonged low mood' which was overly used by pastoral and wellbeing support counsellors seemed like an understatement. I've since been diagnosed and have much more support available to me which I am grateful for, thank you Exeter Uni for having the best further education mental health services in the U.K.

Depressing stuff aside, I guess the silver lining of such temperamental and difficult times is that I am here to reflect on it and learn from it. I really do love the quote "everything will be okay in the end and if it's not, it's not the end" because to me, it provides hope, a light at the end of a dark, all-consuming tunnel which seems to be inescapable. I learnt that I have an excellent support system around me. No exaggeration, when I posted those instagram stories of me quite literally bawling my eyes out and admitting the truth I received over 40 messages from people, some of whom I had never spoken to and then of course from the people I was much closer to. Those messages, phone calls, twitter DMs and more really did give me perspective on what was happening to me. So thank you to everyone who reached out and made sure I was okay, I am eternally thankful.

With regards to social life, university does seem like the pinnacle of social 'stuff' with bar crawls, society socials, nights out, pre drinks...it gets overwhelming. There's something on every night, especially if you're at university in a city which is mostly propelled by the student population. I'd always turned my nose up at it all "that's not my scene" "I'd rather to stay in" and perhaps most representative of me: "fuck that." Well, that is definitely not the case and it turns out that I love being around people, provided I've had some time to myself beforehand. I love surf socials, modern languages socials, extravagant history socials (perks of extensive funding from the guild) and latin nights where I can dance the night away with amazing people and end the night/morning (lol) with Spanish tortilla, arepas and tacos. Socialising is a huge part of university life but it isn't something that just comes to you, unless you actively make an effort to go out, you will be left behind. If you are going to university in September and see yourself as someone who isn't much of a social butterfly, I am urging you to at least make an effort. It gives you a break from the mundane reality of lectures and seminars and endless reading and it of course makes you feel less isolated.

I think I also learnt to really appreciate myself. We can be so self-loathing and then that paired with certain mental health conditions intensifies it. I'm not stupid, I'm not dumb, I'm not an idiot. I am intelligent, articulate and expressive. We don't give ourselves enough credit. I do not want to compare myself to others because I am not them, I am my own person and I deserve to be in this institution just as much as they do. It's so important that we begin to understand the extent of our beauty/intelligence/sauce because, *insert cliched phrase her* if we can't then no one else will.

So those are my thoughts and reflections on my first term of university, it has quite literally been a roller coaster with profound highs and lows. The good has been good and the bad has been pretty fucking bad. But I've made it and now I have all these new lessons about myself which are going to be with me for the rest of my life. I hope you enjoyed reading and possibly found that you yourself could identify with some of the things I've mentioned. Have a fab christmas and I'll hopefully catch you before 2019 (jesus)

What have you learnt over the past 3 months, whether you're at university or not!
-Dalal

8 comments

  1. This photo is gorgeous Dalal, look at you! I found that when I started university, I learnt a LOT about myself and I'm still learning now. I think you probably discover yourself more at uni than you would on a gap year to be honest. I'm glad you're doing a bit better now in terms of the low mood and also glad you accepted help and its somewhat worked!

    Lucy | Forever September

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    1. Ahh thanks Lucy! I agree with that completely, I can’t imagine how much more self discovery there’ll be in the coming years.

      Thanks for commenting <3
      Dalal

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  2. Dalal that photo is gorgeous n also love this post. I hope next semester is filled with more help from counsellors and more good times and more self discovery! I'm starting to think surf societies always have the best socials- the surf n ski society at my uni seem to always have such fun shit on. Hope you have a banging 2019 gal x

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    1. Thank you Libby!! I hope so too. They’re the best societies ;) Hope the new year treats you well

      Dalal xx

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  3. You look so gorgeous in that first photo! What you say about socialising is so true actually, if you don't put yourself out there then chances are a lot of things/people aren't just going to come to you. I'm so glad things are working out and I hope you have the BEST 2019 because you really do deserve it (like your postcard got me through Oxford interviews, I don't think you know how much it meant with regards to encapsulating everything I needed to remember about them not being the end of the world) x

    eleanorclaudie.com

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    1. Thanks Eleanor! It’s a harsh truth that I didn’t want to accept...You’re very welcome for the post card and I’m so so glad that it was of some comfort to you

      Dalal xx

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  4. First of all, I love you girl. Secondly, the 'gap yah' reference, I love you x2. This is going to sound weird but I'm glad you've had these experiences because I've had them too and I promise you, these are the ones that stick with you and help you the most. Sometimes you need to really experience the lows to appreciate the highs but I'm so happy you seem to be doing better and you know that anytime you need me, I'm a call away. This was beautifully written and I look forward to seeing how you feel / what you take from your first year when you finish this year.
    With Love Yossy

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    1. Ah Yossy, sending the love right back at ya <3 I agree with you, in retrospect I am so grateful to have had those times where I hit rock bottom because now I appreciate the good times so much more, just as you said. Thanks so much for your support, it means so much

      Dalal

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Thank you for reading! I love reading comments and will always reply to them.

Lots of love, Dalal

© dalal tahira.