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An overflowing pot: how to avoid boiling over at uni

Sofia Della Sala explores how she tackles feelings of being overwhelmed in freshers’ week and beyond.

Have you ever over-boiled your pasta pot? One minute it looks fine, simmering away, and then the next minute it is frothing and overflowing. I think that is a little what freshers’ week has been like. I have been simmering away but am teetering close to spilling over the edge.

No one likes being overwhelmed. You are stressed or under pressure and feel like you can’t complete the tasks expected of you. I have been feeling overwhelmed lately, and I keep going through waves of ‘I’ve got this, I can attend three events in one evening, replace my stolen phone and call my parents’ to ‘I have no phone, no time and I can’t get my shit done’.

Starting university is inherently an overwhelming time; whether it is as an undergraduate or as a graduate, you are stepping into a new chapter of your life that could potentially define your career. And this is at university in general, never mind at Oxford where there are more libraries than you thought possible, multiple email addresses for the same inbox and the super secure SSO that makes you feel like you are hacking yourself.

This all leads to a pot that is dangerously close to boiling over. Trying to understand the college system, wanting to get involved but also needing to find some time for yourself can be challenging. I walked through the freshers’ fair today and I signed up to more mailing lists than I could ever possibly, actually, really be a part of. The amount of choice you have in what to join and what to do can be disorientating.

I want to do everything, try everything. Be part of my GCR, ski, sail, box, surf, row, campaign and write. And that is only Monday night. There are only 24 hours in the day and unfortunately, I need to sleep for eight of them.

But having all this choice, a vibrant student community that I want to be a part of, and am excited to be a part of, is amazing. I am overwhelmed because I want to be involved and that, I think, is a good thing. I hope I won’t let myself get drowned in the impossibility of doing everything and thus end up doing nothing, as can be the risk. The limited hours in the day means I must be limited in my selection of societies and college involvement.

It can be difficult to know what to prioritise and what to let go. What should our precious few free hours a day be spent on? Everyone will give you a different answer, which can be, again, overwhelming. But try not to let yourself get dragged under by the current. Grab onto one interest or passion to keep you afloat.

Having your pot overflow is horrible; it is messy and out of control and takes time to clean up. At the moment, there isn’t much I can do other than tick some items off my to-do list. Now that I am tucked up at home and away from the madness of the freshers’ fair, I am feeling more put together. I can’t change how much time I have in my day, but I can try and change my mindset. Instead of viewing all the things I can’t make time for as failures or losses, I am going to try and think that even just having the option to choose between societies is pretty cool. And whatever I decide to dedicate my slice of time to will be more than I was doing two weeks ago when I wasn’t part of any societies at all.

Image Credit: www.Pixel.la Free Stock Photos/ CC BY 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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