The first day at university is over and I have rather mixed feelings about it.
On the positive side there’s the age gap between the other students and me. I’m 31, the vast majority of them is fresh out of school and thus around 18 or 19 years old. I spotted two people who were visibly older than me and maybe four or five who might be in their late 20s or early 30s, but about them I’m not entirely sure – maybe they just lacked sleep and looked older than they really are. But the rest out of around 150 GeoSciences freshmen are definitely more than a decade younger than me, and it’s obvious when observing the topics they talk about: their conversations revolve around how they got their driving licence or school-related matters, all of which is so far in the past for me… They are just discovering an adult lifestyle and most actually don’t have much of a clue yet who they really are, and I’m in a completely different phase of my social life. It suddenly made me feel very experienced.
The reason why I think that this difference is a good thing is that I won’t be expected to socialize with them. It will be perfectly ok if I attend classes and curricular excursions, but otherwise keep to myself. I don’t have to make friends with them, which keeps the social anxiety at bay.
Another positive aspect is that we’re all starting from scratch again in the mathematics, physics or chemistry classes. I don’t have to warm up long-forgotten knowledge.
Now on to the negative aspects: I am very much aware that I’m lacking the enthusiasm of back when I first entered university. Before the first problems with my Hashimoto’s struck and as a direct result of the hypothyroidism my depression got worse, this enthusiasm was so great that studying felt like fun. Now, I will have to substitute the enthusiasm with an iron will to not abandon the second attempt at higher education, which means that everything feels a lot more like hard work.
The most difficult today was the fact that during the entire time I was attending classes, I felt like a complete failure for messing up my first degree. The thought never left me, no matter how hard I tried forgetting it, and a good 30 minutes after I was home again, I suddenly broke into tears and cried heavily at the prospect of going through this for another three years. Doesn’t matter that my friends and my therapist tell me that it wasn’t my fault – I thought repeatedly that if I’d managed to finish, I wouldn’t have to go through this now. (And yes, I am aware that if I didn’t endure this in the present, there would be an even worse future.)
The entire day was very stressful for me and I feel physically exhausted. And it was only the beginning.