Worrying about the pressure to go out at uni? You should just focus on doing what you enjoy, says Ruby.
- Ruby Ellis
We know all too well that university brings with it a lot of pressures, such as homesickness, independent learning, and of course a sudden increase in workload. But there was one that I wasn’t really expecting and the one that hit me the hardest: the pressure to go out.
Having struggled with anxiety in the past, clubs are one place that I find it difficult to cope. One of my symptoms before a panic attack is that my senses get really heightened. Loud music, flashing lights and being pressed up against random strangers can make it an intense and frightening experience that for me is sure to set off feelings of nausea and hyperventilation. The answer to this seems obvious: why don’t you just not go clubbing? And why do I still find myself going out every so often, knowing I will hate it and usually ending up walking back in the dark alone because I panicked in the club and had to run out as fast as I could?
I don’t mind drinking. In fact, I really enjoy a glass of wine after a long day. But excessive drinking, the feeling of not being in control and of course the hangover the next day is not my idea of fun. Yet drinking and going out is so deeply ingrained into university culture I felt like I had to force myself to go out. Freshers’ week was awful for me. I started off almost enjoying myself, but was so physically and mentally exhausted by the end of each night from trying to control my symptoms that by the end of the week I couldn’t cope anymore and was an anxious, homesick mess. I felt like a failure because I hadn’t gone out and met loads of new people, which is what I was told Freshers’ was all about. I felt like I had missed the prime opportunity to make friends and I had essentially failed. I thought I was the odd one out and was never going to make any meaningful friendships. I also thought that everyone was going to think I was the boring girl who never went out.
Thankfully, the reality couldn’t be any further from that. Through my course and other activities, I have met loads of people who I don’t have to go out to bond with. Sure, some of them do enjoy clubbing but I’m under no obligation to join them, and we can hang out in other ways like film nights and going out for food instead. And even those who were out every night at Freshers’ have revealed to me that they don’t think clubbing is all that, and they were just faced with the same pressure to go out as I was. You may come across the odd person who thinks that you are “boring” if you don’t go out, but you must ask yourself, are they really all that fun if the only way they can enjoy themselves is by drinking themselves into oblivion?
Clubbing is a big part of university culture, there’s no denying it. But the great thing that I have learned is that it is not the only part of it. You will meet people from all over the country and even the world who have different interests, and there are so many opportunities available to you. Now is the time to learn a new skill, pick up a new sport or hobby and explore your interests. I started to learn yoga, which is now my go-to if I’m feeling low; it makes me feel amazing. Most importantly, you are here to get a degree, to learn and to grow as a person. If you are feeling isolated because you don’t enjoy going out, just know you are not alone and there are people who feel the exact same as you, but they are just not speaking out about it; but most importantly that does not make you any less of a person than anyone else. Embrace it and start filling your time with things you truly enjoy.