After talking to a close friend of mine, I realized that the "3rd year wall" is actually a thing. It's something that current students, like myself, are struggling with. I thought it was a good idea to talk about it, so those going through it as well know they are not alone and that it truly does get better.
So, what exactly is the 3rd year wall? I've come to realize that 3rd year, which is junior year for my American friends, has been the most stressful time of my University life thus far. It is a time where you aren't just entering the new and exciting time that is first year, you're not adjusting to living on your own, and you're not graduating. I find it an awkward time where I'm essentially just stuck here, lost and confused on where I truly am.
Let's put it into perspective.
First year for a lot of us was when we moved away for the first time; the first time we were truly on our own. It was an extremely exciting time, and it was a year filled with lots of personal growth, many challenges, and finally...freedom. It may not have been the most successful time in terms of getting the most out of your education, but it definitely was a way to discover what you were truly interested in. First year was the time to find new friends, see what courses you're interested in, and try to find out what you wanted to get out of a university education.
Second year was when we (for the majority of us) moved out of residence into an apartment or house, either by ourselves or with friends. It was where you truly got to "adult" and figure out how to cook, how to book your own appointments, how to live with other people your age, and what it really felt like to live in the real world. It was a time where you experimented with different foods, when you tried to develop new relationships, and essentially learned/tried to live on your own. In terms of classes in second year, I found I got to do classes that were more up my ally - it wasn't generic first year classes that everyone had to take. I finally got to take some classes that were relevant to my intended career path and goal. Second year was again a time for growth, personal accomplishments, "adulting," and truly figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.
Fourth year, though I'm not there yet, is both an exciting and stressful time. You're almost done your undergraduate degree (for most programs), and that itself is a huge accomplishment. For most people, it means you now have the education to pursue a job that you are interested in, and if not, it's a great stepping stool to get to where you want to be. By fourth year, you've learned more or less how to live on your own, how to cook, do laundry, book your own doctor's appointments, and be an adult who contributes to society.
Third year is where I'm at, and I can honestly say that I'm struggling. I'm struggling to balance my friendships, my work, my relationships, and my school work. It's hard for me to come to terms with where I'm at in life, and how I got to be here. I feel that I haven't accomplished enough, and find myself questioning if what I'm currently doing will be enough. Thus, I've hit what some people call the "3rd year wall." I find myself getting anxious over the littlest things, and it's hard to always find the positives in a situation. Being someone who always appears to be smiling and happy is proving to be more difficult than I thought. I relate to the quote "A smile can hide everything," because I feel like that's where I'm at right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of what I've accomplished thus far, but I just feel like it's not enough. It's extremely difficult for me to express my emotions out in the public, but I know that talking about it makes me feel 100x better.
So, that being said, here I am talking about it. I'm letting people know that those who always seem happy and okay are not always happy and okay. Everyone goes through their own personal struggles and battles, and that is OK. It is ok to not be ok. It is okay to feel lost and like you don't know what you want to do with your life...it's normal. Your university years are a terrifying time, but just know that you're not alone. There are people who are going through the exact same things as you, and may want to talk about it but just don't know who they can rely on.
This post is me telling all my friends, family, and peers that you will always have me to talk to. I may not fully understand what you are going through, but I want you to know that I'm struggling as well. We're all in this together, and together we can get through this. If you need me at midnight, I'll come running over no questions asked. I will do anything in my power to make you feel worth it, even though I may not 100% feel like it. Maybe that's my weakness - I put others before myself 99% of the time and that takes a huge toll on me. Don't get me wrong, I love helping others and making others happy, but sometimes you just have to be selfish and do stuff for yourself. Your young adult years are when you should be discovering who you are, what you like, what you value, and what you want to accomplish and strive for.
Now the real question is how have I been trying to get over this "wall"? Talking to friends is a great way to let it all out, and by doing this you never know if you'll find someone going through the same thing. Another thing that I've found helpful is going to the gym. At the gym, it's easy to get lost in your workout and forget about everything else. On top of that, you're also choosing to make a healthy and positive change to yourself, and that is definitely something to be proud of. I've also found that making lists of goals has had a positive influence on my mood, as I feel extremely accomplished and proud of myself when I accomplish these goals.
Here's to everyone going through their "3rd year wall," or whatever wall in life you're currently facing. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can overcome any personal battles because you are strong and worth it. Take pride in your accomplishments thus far, big or small. Talk to someone, and be sure to listen when others need someone to lean on. Give what you receive, and love till you can't love no more, because we all need a little more love and happiness in our lives.