Over summer I wrote a piece titled ‘Our expectations of University may not be fulfilled, but we can be’, and I’d like to dedicate my last Editor’s Opinion to one of the very things that has allowed me to find fulfilment over the past year, Nouse. A year has passed since I bit the bullet and got involved with student journalism, and truthfully, I am so glad that I did. Not only have I met great people, but I have gained the skills and experience that I have gained I simply could not have obtained from my History degree.
The feeling of being part of a team and producing something that you can have immense pride in is one that I had not enjoyed for quite some time before Nouse, and fo that I owe a lot. Moreover, it has solidified, albeit not entirely, the sort of job that I can envision myself in after university. Reflecting on my year at Nouse has been a regular pastime as of late, and it’s opened my eyes to the importance of challenging yourself. Given the nature of my course, I could have easily become a humanduvet hybrid and isolated myself into a constant state of reading. As abhorrently cliché as it is, stepping out of my comfort zone has been essential to making my time at university both worthwhile and enjoyable. However, while I will speak endlessly of how rewarding and fulfilling it is to be part of societies, from Nouse to York Community Consulting to PantSoc, and to fill up your schedule and meet constant flocks of new people, there is also a very real stress that comes with this approach to university. Your degree is usually put on the back burner, which is an anxiety that never ceases to exist (I can vouch for that as a new third year), while sleep and relaxation time becomes minimal. It is during the weeks where it seems like I don’t have a minute to myself that I do start to question, is it worth it? Will this be beneficial to me in the long run? Am I spreading myself too thin? Often after a catch-up with family members, they will give me a knowing look and question whether I ought to take a step back from other commitments and focus on my studies for a while.
Yet every time I convince myself that I will do just that, I find myself continuing to get more involved and taking up new commitments. And while it may seem like self-sabotage to some, the reality is that with the increase in stress comes the increase in experience, confidence, and friends. There isn’t a perfect balance: no matter how neat and tidy your weekly planner is, it is inevitable that university life will be somewhat chaotic and frantic, cramming in readings here and drinks with friends there. It has become glaringly obvious during my first few years of adulthood that what works for one person, and brings them happiness, could be entirely catastrophic for on other. Some people can manage the stress, others crumble under it. Some feel re-energised after a night socialising, others feel drained. It isn’t a case of one type of lifestyle being right or wrong, but I’ve realised that it is important to experience both and see what suits you. Moreover, there is no shame in trying something and it not working out (admittedly, this felt disheartening half-a-term into freshers after about 70 taster sessions).
Although third year presents an entirely new set of challenges, I couldn’t get through my last year if I didn’t have a creative outlet such as Nouse. There is undoubtedly a fine line between being productive and busy, and being completely overwhelmed, however I don’t think that is a line I have crossed just yet.