Find ways to make yourself happy.
I’ll admit it doesn’t sound easy. Midterms and assignments can suck. But there are certain things, I find, that can help keep you happy even when you’re sleeping four hours a night. Truthfully, I wish I had recognized what makes me happy and brought more of it into my life earlier on.
Be proud of your work. No, seriously. It’s easy to feel like you’re not working towards anything in university, but it’s important to pay attention to the work you do and be proud of it. Remember that sentence you wrote really well? Be proud! Remember that typo that you fixed? Be proud! Remember that citation that you wrote perfectly? Be proud, be proud, be proud! It doesn’t have to be a PhD thesis for you to be excited about having written it.
Bring people into your life and keep them there. Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet—when you’re sitting beside them in a lecture, at least. I find that a lot of people seem to not want to talk to others first at the risk of looking “weird”. What people don’t realize is that everyone else is thinking exactly the same thing. So break the cycle; talk to that dude sitting beside you in your chem lecture. Introduce him to that girl sitting beside you in bio. Make a group of friends and you’ll never be bored or lonely at school ever again!
Work out. It’s good for you and it makes you feel good, especially when you do it with friends and compare GAINS. (No, don’t do that.) But it’s still fun to work out with friends and share workout routines and complain about how much you hurt the day after. Do it for yourself too, though. Work towards a goal in fitness and health. It’s worth it when you see and feel the progress.
Lastly, be self-aware. The above three paragraphs are just what I’ve found to make me happy. If you’re self-aware, then you can find the things that make you happy. Whenever you feel really good, stop and think: what are you doing right now? What did you do before? What are you thinking about doing? What’s making you happy right now? And hopefully next year you can write a blog post for The Medium giving next year’s first-years advice on what you’ve learnt.