March 21, 2019, by Issy
Knowing Your Limits
One of the biggest things for me and building up my independence since starting at university, and something I am still working on now, well into my second year, is knowing where my limits are.
I felt, when starting university, that it was important to push my boundaries and make the most of the new situation and fresh start I had found myself in. However, my main rule, was to also be myself, and not change to fit into what seemed like the ‘normal’ thing everyone else was doing (spoiler alert: not everyone was). The area where these two thresholds meet – being open to new ideas and change, and not forcing yourself to be someone else, is what I see as my limits.
Limits are not a bad thing. I tell myself that every day, especially when I feel frustrated that I’m not as outgoing and social as some of my peers. They make me, me. In fact, it’s a pretty good thing to be able to recognise and appreciate them.
For instance, I know that I’m not one for staying out late in town with people I don’t really know that well. It’s just not my thing, and despite this being seen by some as a ‘university life ritual’, it doesn’t have to be. For me, I much prefer staying in with a load of chocolates, watching something on Netflix. If I go out, I often feel uncomfortable and unsafe, not because I am genuinely in danger, but because I am stretching my boundaries way beyond what I am comfortable with and therefore cannot enjoy myself. It’s just not me.
However, for other people, going out is something they are perfectly comfortable with, and this is because their personalities and willingness to push their boundaries are different to me. That’s also completely okay, and just what some people like to do with their time! I don’t perceive anyone differently for it, just as I would hope and expect not to be looked down upon for not wanting to go out by someone else.
I know what can happen when I do feel pressured into pushing myself past where I am comfortable with – especially with an already heightened state of anxiety due to mental health conditions, I find that panic attacks become extremely likely, and I genuinely cannot settle down for days afterwards. For me, it’s just not worth it.
It may feel like ‘everyone else’ is doing all these things that you simply don’t like to do, but that is not the case, even though it certainly felt it at first for me! It takes time, but when you find people with shared interests as you, and trust me, it will eventually happen, then suddenly things just seem to fall into place.