> Being yourself is a challenge, especially at the start of university

There I was sitting in the courtyard of UWE’s Frenchay campus, having navigated through a series of nonsensically-terminal corridors, all of which seemed to end in a gathering of hairy-arsed builders.

There were very few people milling about the place as I’d arrived a few days before the official start of term. Consequently I genuinely felt like a spare part sitting outside in the courtyard on my own, so I took positive action and reached for a copy of WesternEye, the student paper, in an attempt to appear as if I knew what I was doing.

In the past I’ve never really taken interest in educational publications regarding them as pages of carefully-governed opinion from those who spend far too much time with their tutors. However, I was almost immediately drawn into a world of student knowledge which made me feel slightly more comfortable about the daunting move to university.

Whilst browsing the paper and shuffling restlessly upon an anatomically-woeful chair in an attempt to find a relaxed position for my comically disproportionate limbs, I even began to feel slightly more comfortable with the fact I don’t drink.

WHAT?! I hear you cry. You can’t go to university and not drink!

Well, that was the impression I was under and was therefore somewhat nervous about the whole university thing until I read Paul Saville’s article, ‘University Life: survival tips.’

“… to know yourself truly,” he writes, “is a wonderful thing. People respect you for being yourself … and they see through it when you’re not.”

It really does seem you don’t have to succumb to peer pressure to ‘fit in’ with new acquaintances. If you go down a path of denial there will come a time when the truth will out. The superficial respect you’ve gained as a result of lying will, inevitably, come crashing down around you.

So ask yourself, is it really worth living a lie for the pleasure of being able to spend your days in the company of shallow-minded people? I know I’d much rather find a few friends I could be truly comfortable with, as opposed to feeling the need to wear a different persona every time I meet someone new.

The message here is to be comfortable in your skin. You are beautiful as you are and if people can’t see that, then it’s their problem. True friends will accept your character without feeling the need to manipulate it in any way.

I carried on reading and noted an image in the corner of my eye which read, “REMEMBER, TIME LOST CANNOT BE REGAINED,” and with this wisdom fresh in my mind I tucked the paper under my arm and headed back to campus.

By Matthew Stimpson