5 Breakdowns You’ll Inevitably Experience at Uni

Words by Elena Webster | @elenawebster 
Illustration by Jeremy Swan | @jeremyswanart

University is a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view…but unlike Aladdin, you won’t have a magic carpet and a monkey sidekick to get you through unscathed.

I can confidently say that you will have a number of breakdowns during your degree. I apologise for my pessimism, but with higher education comes higher levels of stress.

As I’m graduating in December, I thought it was time to impart some wisdom upon my departure.

Here are the five breakdowns you will inevitably encounter during your degree, have a read, and cry.


The ‘Weight-gain’ Breakdown

Surprise surprise, this disaster happens in the first year! Many of us have moved out of home and are now in the world alone, trying to figure out our capabilities. For most of us, we realise cooking is not one of them.

We’ve all heard of the fresher five: the five kilos you gain at the start of uni when you’re living off a steady diet catered by Menulog.

You can usually combat this by being healthy for a week, until you order that HSP on Saturday night and follow it up with a cheeky brunch on Sunday.


The Financial Breakdown

Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s definitely needed to pay rent. We’ve all been through those panicked moments when you glance at your bank account and regret everything. This breakdown is characterised by tears and pleading phone calls to landlords, friends and home.

You tell everyone you’re broke but there is a chance you either a) have a wardrobe full of once-worn items, b) buy at least four coffees and two meals every time you’re at uni, or c) you bought everyone three rounds of tequila shots on the weekend.

This breakdown is entirely self-inflicted and completely avoidable! Your tears are coming at a price — because mental health is ten times more than the spray jacket you just bought from Gorman.


The ‘No spare time’ Breakdown

Do you constantly find yourself short of spare time? Or are you procrastinating so hard you actually believe you studied for five hours yesterday, when realistically you did about one hour worth of study and wasted the other four painting your nails, Facetiming your dad and sorting through your clothes?

This meltdown happened to me in second year, when the uni workload increased  on top of organising and finding internships in my ‘spare time’. It will happen…just wait.


The ‘Everyone is doing better than me’ Breakdown

Comparison is the thief of joy — whoever said that was bang on the money.

Third year started with a wave of ‘oh, shit’ thoughts. I realised everyone had been buffing up their resumes with internships and work experience. Even more intense panic set in when I saw those positions turn into jobs. I felt like I was being left behind.

I soon realised it was pointless being jealous. Most of those people were working at places and in positions which weren’t necessarily part of the industry I wanted to work in. So why should I compare myself to them?


The ‘What will I do with my life after uni’ Breakdown

This is my current status in breakdowns. This breakdown is not appeased by the onslaught of people asking you, “what do you want to do when you finish uni?”

It’s really shitty when you don’t know.

Step back and realise that you have time.

You don’t need to get a job straight out of uni. You don’t need to stick with a job you have straight out of uni until you’re 73 years old. You are going to be alright.

Take a deep breath. You have the rest of the year, the whole of Summer and the next 20 years. Your world will not implode if you haven’t made a decision yet.

There is a chance you will be as lucky as me, and learn from each and every breakdown. You may have a panic attack, you may fall behind with your studies, but you will be a-okay in the end. I promise.


On a serious note, if you find yourself struggling there are people you can talk to:

RMIT student support services/counselling (appointments can be made online or via telephone on 9925 5000)  

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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