The Fresher’s Guide for the Serial Overthinker I: Fresher’s week

By Iona Nixon

The first two weeks of Fresher’s term can seem to pass by in a flurry of quick decisions; who to sit with at dinner, whether to tag along to the college bar with that cute guy you just met or stay in for a quiet movie night with those girls from Matriculation Day. It feels like decision after fatal decision is determining the path mapped out for you for the next three years.

If you find yourself in the midst of Fresher’s Week without having spent a single moment in the present, then you are in good company. The Overthinker’s Guide is here to tell you that it’s totally fine not to be totally fine during Fresher’s.

Remember that the worries you have are shared by the thousands of students starting university this year.

Going through the first few weeks as a ‘serial overthinker’ can turn the move to university into a series of psychological hurdles. Making new friends, becoming self-sufficient in a new city, writing your first undergraduate essay or lab report become daunting tasks – all in the knowledge that you really are going it alone.

But take a moment to consider the wry mantra from second and third years: ‘first year doesn’t count’. This is truly the year when you can get it all wrong, ten times over if you need to. If you crash and burn in your first essay or spend your first months hanging out with the ‘wrong’ group of people for you, that’s completely normal. These overwhelming hurdles are a form of mental exercise, teaching you so much more about yourself and the world around you than you might expect.

But even in this knowledge, coping with the overwhelming here and now can be exhausting even for the most extroverted and self-assured among us. Moments of self-care can become islands of calm and restoration during these times. So here are my top survival tips for Fresher’s:

  1. Remember to eat – buy your favourite snacks if college food isn’t suiting you, or prepare your comfort foods in self-catered. I found a bag of Uncle Ben’s Rice was the perfect treat when the anxious knot in my stomach stopped me from eating the unfamiliar college meals. Familiar, comforting food can be key to keeping your energy and spirits up during Fresher’s.  
  2. Spend some time by yourself to relax – for those of us unused to communal living with people our own age, it can be exhausting being surrounded by new people all the time. So make sure you spend some quality time with yourself. Don’t mind the FOMO, you won’t be forgotten if you spend an evening in your room watching Netflix.
  3. Be kind to yourself – if things don’t go to plan it can quickly transform into self-negativity. So remember to be generous in the way you ‘speak’ to yourself in your head.
  4. Get some sleep!

If you find yourself in the midst of Fresher’s Week without having spent a single moment in the present, then you are in good company.

This year in particular may feel daunting as the uncertainties and restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to shrink our personal lives and yet somehow make the wider world seem much bigger and more intimidating than before. But remember that the worries you have are shared by the thousands of students starting university this year. Your Fresher’s experience is your own to make of it what you want. You’ve got this!

Mental wellbeing signpost: College Welfare teams and university counselling services.

Image courtesy of Jade87 via Pixabay.

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