‘Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can’
Last week I went for coffee with one of my oldest friends. We haven’t managed to see each other in a while, and a catch up was long overdue. And something that came up when we were chatting (over tea, coffee, cake, and toast), was that she feels like she isn’t enjoying the social side of uni very much in our second year. And that she is working all of the time. This friend is extremely conscientious (we went though GCSE and A-Level together, so I am well qualified to say that), and I know where she’s coming from with the cram-as-much-work-in-as-you-can ethos. It always feels like there is so much to do in uni, especially as both our courses are heavy on the reading material (required, recommended, seminar reading, essay reading- and attending poetry readings for me). Throw in the idea that in university you should be going out every night and drinking until 6am, only to roll into a 9am lecture, complete a solid day of work- and then go do it again- and you’re knackered before you’ve even started. But this is the thing: sometimes you wont have time to complete the reading. Sometimes, you wont want to go out. Sometimes you wont want to spend two hours in the gym. You will make mistakes at work, you will barely scrape a respectable grade in an essay. And all of that is okay- so long as you are trying.
Recently, when I’ve been berating myself for not completing enough of my work, for having a less that satisfactory gym session, or for missing a social (or twenty) because I simply want to sit and watch a DVD with my flat, or get an early night, or go grab coffee with friends instead- even with this post, which is a day late due to my being incredibly bogged down with uni work, and trying to maintain a vaguely respectable social life- I remind myself that I am trying my best. I’ve begun asking myself: what can I be doing, realistically, that is more than I am doing now? What can I/could I have done differently? Often, the answer is simply: Nothing.
Some days things won’t go to plan, and the only thing you can do is just be gentle with yourself. Because making yourself feel like shit won’t change anything. Whatever you’re doing, its better than the people who aren’t making an effort at all.