[Been There Done That – UniLife]
by Celeste Chia (UniLife Columnist)
I am currently taking a writing module on commemoration, memorialisation and remembrance. One of the things I’ve learnt is, in writing and producing history, certain narratives are deliberately left out or silenced. The dominant ones in society have their stories heard, and many times it seems the minority’s personal narratives never existed. There is always an “official” history we are constantly exposed to in the media.
What comes to your mind when you contemplate what your university life would be like? I’m sure your perceptions and expectations are shaped by those commonly portrayed in the media, or experiences your exuberant seniors would share. We hear things like “You’ll have the time of your life there. You’ll make so many friends. You’ll enjoy your university camps so much.” So, when we don’t have an experience that aligns with that, we think that we’re an anomaly and there’s something wrong with us.
I believe that we live in a world where the voices of introverts are drowned out by extroverts. Here are my personal observations about university, from the perspective of an introvert who has observed and heard various accounts from both her extroverted and introverted friends. Disclaimer: this does not speak for the whole population.
- Not all will enjoy university camps. We have heard about how crazily fun the games can get, and how you will get to bond with your orientation group through late nights and heart-to-heart talks and forge friendships that will last you for the next 3-4 years. This does happen to the majority who would then proudly share their experiences with the people around them, but there will always be a group of people who can’t click with the bigger group or overlooked in the midst of a “cool” crowd.
- Not all camps are enjoyable. There will always be the enthusiastic group of people who sign up for at least 3 freshman camps before university starts. You may not necessarily like the first camp, but the second camp will be different from the first, and so on. It’s not uncommon to hear people rank their enjoyment for each of the camps they have attended. Some common sentiments are, “I really didn’t like this camp and the people there. I really hope the next camp will be better” or “When I went for camp #3, I realised that the people there didn’t commit fully to the camp because they were already close to their friends from #1 and #2”.
- The close friends you make in university may not be who you expect them to be. Some girls fantasise about finding their Serena van der Woodsen or their Blair Waldorf, or a super close Bridesmaid-esque clique they can spill everything to, but the friends you end up clicking with may completely surprise you.
- Not everyone moves on from JC. Some people swiftly move on to university life, but you may be surprised at the number of people who immensely miss their JC life and friends. Transition processes vary across individuals. I know of some people who haven’t made much friends in university, so much so that here, they still meet up with and stick to their JC friends every day.
What university has taught me is that we should all learn to be comfortable with who we are, especially for the introverts who are still struggling with their social life. Do not be ashamed of certain social inadequacies and never apologise for who you are. We all have our own unique experiences, and although you may form a minority, you are most definitely not alone.