Imagine turning up at uni in your first year, unsure of how exactly you got there, and feeling so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity. If you don’t know by now, I’m a big legally blonde fan, and in the words of Emmett Forrest (in the musical version): “With the chance I’ve been given, I’m gonna be driven as hell”. I well and truly felt it. Getting into my first choice uni, to do a course that I didn’t apply for, with grades that weren’t quite what they should have been, was a total chance that I was so lucky to have. So, I set myself a few goals within the first couple of weeks that would help me make the most of my first year of university. I thought I’d put them in a blog post for you as I’m watching myself evidence the goals that I set.
1. Take every opportunity- no matter how scary!
Some opportunities are easy to take: “Would you like this work experience placement?” Absolutely yes. “Would you like to be on the law students society committee?” Ah, maybe… “Would you like to moot in this varsity moot with only three hours to prepare as someone has dropped out?” Definitely not.
However, when I started at university I promised myself that making the most out of all university meant taking opportunities that may seem scary, but will develop my skills and my character. I said yes to all of the opportunities that I have mentioned above and they all taught me different things about myself. The work experience placement showed me and reminded me why I want to pursue a career at the bar. My time on the law society committee in my second year resulted in being appointed at the societies’ vice-president of events for my final year here, and it has developed my skills in communication, in leadership, and in negotiation. I also said yes to mooting competitively with very little preparation, this was one of the hardest things that I have had to consider, as there was so much opportunity, yet so much potential to go wrong. However, with the support of wonderful friends and tutors, I learned that I do actually work well under pressure.
The point that I’m making is that opportunities are often scary. It’s difficult to put yourself out there for various different things with little experience, and often little confidence. However, it is so worth it. Each opportunity is a learning opportunity, and it’s important to remember that. The opportunities that you have at university also aren’t opportunities that you are likely to have at any other time in you life so it is important to make the most of them whilst they’re available to you.
2. Remember who you are and where you want to be
It’s so easy sometimes to get caught up in the typical ‘uni lifestyle’, to attend half of your lectures in a week, to not prepare for things and to spend half of your time drunk. That’s not me, it has never been me and never will be, and for me going to university it was really important to me that I remained true to myself. I spent a lot of time in high school trying to fit in with different groups of people, and it was only when I got to college that I realised that by being yourself you will find friends who are supportive and accepting of you, so it was so important to me that this remained when I went to uni.
Although my first year of uni was an absolute disaster in terms of flat mates, I did find friends who are lovely, who accept me for who I am and love and support me unconditionally. I am so lucky to have friends who support and encourage each other as this is so important to me and allows me to develop character in terms of being confident in who I am and learning more about myself as I face the challenges that uni has for me.
I also came to uni with career goals. These have altered slightly since coming to uni (I have now decided that I wish to be a barrister, rather than a solicitor), but the work ethic etc remains the same. It was so important to me when I came that I didn’t lose sight of where I want to be and ultimately worked to achieve that end goal. Even if doing the reading for a non-assessed employment law seminar doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the assessment, or the end goal of my career, it is. A career in law is so much more than just passing the exam, but it is having a genuine knowledge of the area and of the current changes in the industry. I constantly strive for the end goal and it’s that that keeps me motivated.
3. Don’t worry, have confidence and trust that everything will work out.
So laid back you’re nearly horizontal? I wish. I am the biggest stress-head around. I always have been and I always will be, it’s just who I am. I stressed about coming to uni and convinced myself not to apply because I worried so much about the logistics of it- finances etc. I learned in my first year that all of these things work themselves out, because they have to. Things usually work themselves out, you find a way around them and everything is okay in the end.
As well as being a stress-head, I have been known to doubt my ability massively. Again, it’s something I’ve always done. However, I learned that you have to be your own biggest cheerleader. Nobody has a team of cheerleaders behind them if they’re not there themselves leading the squad. Sometimes you’re the only person who believes in your ability to do something, but that’s all that matters, as you’re the only person who needs to believe in your ability to act on your thoughts and ideas. Of course there will be times when you doubt your ability, it’s natural, but never doubt it too much. I have learned that sometimes having some confidence (or even just pretending to have confidence) in yourself is the difference between “I can’t” and “I can”. It’s a minor thing but a little bit of self-belief that you’re going to get to where you need to be is all that you need to encourage yourself on the way.
I think that’s it for now, a little Tuesday night rambling for you!
Ps- Talking of scary opportunities, click here to have a look at my new role as a student vlogger!