As a bright kid, I never learned to study. Things just came naturally to me and my brain absorbed information like a sponge. I didn’t need to go over things, I just understood.
However, this tactic hit a wall when I started high school and learning became a bit of a struggle. Without good study habits, I could still skate by, but never felt like I had a full understanding. Add emerging mental and chronic health issues to the situation, and you can see how things quickly became overwhelming. At university, where all of the learning was in my own hands, it became almost impossible to get each assessment done without a breakdown.
I finished at university over a decade ago, and a lot has changed. I still see myself as an intelligent person and, whilst I’ve found ways to help get the important things done, my life-organisation and study skills still leave a lot of room for improvement. Despite this, I’ve decided to go back to university.
To be honest, I’m terrified.
I’ve fought really hard over the years to get to a place where I feel like my mental health is well managed and I’m mostly content with my life. My chronic illness symptoms are also far better controlled than I ever imagined they could be. While I am confident that the state of my life is not so fragile that it could fall apart as a result of one bad day, I do worry that the consistent stress of going back to study will slowly push me back to where I started.
Luckily, this time I have supports.
I feel comfortable reaching out to the people in my life who can offer advice, encouragement or an empathetic ear. While I might not always trust my own abilities, I do trust them to help keep me on the right path.
It will be my second round at uni, and I feel more motivated. While I enjoyed parts of my first degree, I struggled with so many aspects of life that I spent most of my time as an anxious mess. I didn’t have the brain power to truly contemplate how the work I was doing would feed into my future, or even what I wanted that to look like.
This time, I know exactly what I’m doing at university. I have a specific goal and a path to get there which serves as a great source of inspiration. I’m not just doing this for myself, but also the people I want to support with my skills once I’m finished.
Change is scary and going back to university at 30 feels like a big risk. I know that learning “new tricks” to study efficiently will be long and difficult journey, and it may well make my mental health a little harder to manage. However, at the end of the day, I know that I’ve been through far more difficult circumstances and the lessons I’ve learned along the way only make it easier to keep moving forward. I might be anxious as hell, but I don’t let that stop me anymore.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.
To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/