Fear and Loathing in Las Campus

Send it. Just send it. What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s the first major assignment of my Master of Journalism degree, and I’m already struggling. We have to find a local news story and interview two people, but I’m having trouble finding the courage to ask people to talk to me. There’s only a week before it’s due. I don’t know what to do, I don’t have enough time. I’ve made it worse for myself: the longer I’ve left it, the harder it will be if I can’t find interviews. I’m stressed and scared, but most of all I’m disappointed with myself. I should have learnt my lesson from last time.

Four years before, I did my honours thesis. I spent the whole year frozen in panic, doubting that I could even do it, that I was good enough. I fantasised about dropping out, just dropping everything, but I couldn’t even manage that. Everyone else seemed so confident, huddling together before classes talking up their work.

‘I’m on my fifth draft already.’

‘I spent the last two weeks on my bibliography.’

‘My supervisor says I should do my PhD next year.’

Somehow, I don’t know how, I got a HD for my final grade. I never wanted to feel like that again, and yet, there I was.

That first assignment also turned out fine, but I sometimes feel as though I’m trapped in the same cycle of procrastination. Dream jobs, great opportunities all come and go, and I scramble to keep up, frustrated at my inability to believe in myself and live up to my potential.

I suspect I’m not alone, but how do I love myself when I’m disappointed in myself?

This year I’ve made a real effort to push myself, to be brave, to try more things, and here are some of the things that have worked for me.

  1.     It’s okay to feel upset if you haven’t done well in something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bad mark on an essay, a poor performance review at work or missing out on a job, it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling, even if it’s your own fault that things turned out they way they did. It’s almost impossible to shove something to the back of your mind and not think about it, it will pop up when you least expect it to. Sometimes things hurt, but after a while you think about them less and less.
  2.     Think about what you can do differently in the future. If you know where you went wrong last time, you can improve next time. It’s definitely worth reflecting on what you can do better to get an outcome you’ll be happy with. Work out what you want to achieve, what’s going to make you happy, and plan how you’re going to do it. Write a plan, write a list, whatever works best for you. If I haven’t written something on my to-do list, I’m probably not going to get around to doing it. On the other hand, I love the feeling of ticking something off my list because it makes me feel like I’m getting there.
  3.     Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Life isn’t always easy, no one knows everything, and there’s no shame in not being brilliant at everything. One thing I have learnt is that it’s amazing how many people will help you if you just ask them. Talk to your course coordinator, talk to your lectures, your boss, the library staff, the career centre, counselling services. They can fix most things! Especially at uni, so many people are genuinely invested in you being successful, speak up if you’re having trouble.
  4.     Remember that no one’s perfect. No matter how good everyone else seems, you can’t compare yourself to other people. You don’t know from the outside how other people are feeling, and what they tell you may only be part of the big picture. Everyone has things they are brilliant at, and things they wish they could do better. All you can do is your best!

I feel like in my final year of uni I’m (finally!) making progress. I’m not sure that I can say that I love myself yet, but I’m doing more and more things that make me happy, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

Words by Hannah Hill

IG – @hannah.elizabeth.hill

Art by Khaw Ann Li

IG – @kech_k

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