Thursday 24 January 2019

The one word that dictates how I spend my time

In this blog, Ethan discusses how to find fulfillment in university life, and how he keeps his mental health in check. 

When we don’t feel like we’re getting enough from our lives, or are putting enough back into them, it can become easy to over-indulge in escapism, believing that it will take hard work to find satisfaction. But enjoying ourselves shouldn’t feel like hard work, and once we find beneficial ways of spending our time, it will become easier to repeat these activities.

When starting University, it is easy to succumb to the lifestyles that are expected of us as students. We assume that attending society taster sessions, drinking with strangers, or going clubbing will inject happiness into our lives. For many, these activities aren’t enjoyable. Just because we expect to enjoy these things does not mean that we will, nor that they will provide us with much satisfaction.

As someone who had never done any of these things before University, I found myself confused as to why I was not enjoying the same activities that everybody else seemed to be enjoying; I ended up feeling alone and worthless as a result.

However, when I really thought about not just the activities that I enjoyed, but why I enjoyed them, I discovered a goal to strive towards: fulfillment. The reason that I was not enjoying the activities that I had expected to was because I was not fulfilled. I was spending time with people that I didn’t genuinely connect with, and filling my time with things that didn’t truly make me happy.

Now, a couple more years into University, I am filling my time with things that leave me feeling fulfilled, and like I am doing something purposeful with my potential.

For me, this include going out less with friends and spending more time just chatting with them instead; writing, reading or playing guitar rather than scrolling through YouTube; wasting less time napping and listening to music to increase my energy instead; and dedicating myself to more fulfilling causes, such as mental health, rather than the interests of societies that I feel I ‘should’ be involved with.

If you are not feeling fulfilled, it does not mean that all that you do is futile. You’ll already be doing things which fulfill you, but it the things that don’t which can leave us feeling lost. Take some time to really think about what makes you happy, and how you can be exploring the causes that mean the most to you, not just things that you think you should care about.

A good place to start can be the hobbies that we enjoyed as a child, and the things we used to spend the days dreaming about. These are often forgotten as we get older, and we begin to care more about what we should be doing, or what is cool. Take inspiration from lost hobbies, and find activities that you can be doing now which will satisfy the same imaginative desires that you had as a child. Also look at the ways in which you have developed since then, and the interests that have been introduced as you’ve grown up. Filling your life with the things that make you truly happy is the ultimate way to find fulfillment.

Hey, I'm Ethan! I'm currently studying Philosophy and Politics at UEA. Having not found the past few years a breeze, as few people do, and struggling along the journey to know myself and where I'd like for my life to take me, I thought I'd share my experiences and the lessons I've learnt from others going through similar struggles, in hope that you also get a better idea of how you want to experience life.

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