Lost and Found
Words by Joy Jasmine Kaur
I was lost.
Metaphorically, completely lost.
I won’t lie. I just simply couldn’t remember who I was.
Even if I thought about how I used to be, that seemed like a long-lost dream.
Something that couldn’t be regained.
I lost interest in everything. Every damn thing. Life had completely lost its meaning and purpose for me.
They say that the transition to university is hard.
Yup, I felt it, the hard way.
My transition to uni was coupled with my transition to a new country without all the people I had spent all my life with. Here I was, on a new continent, leaving family and friends behind and starting a completely new life. Alone.
I remember when I was in high school, I painted my future self as studying at a top engineering university and doing all the typical university stuff. When I got accepted at Monash, my imagination became even more vivid: being a part of student teams, fun university activities, parties, internships, co-ops and whatnot. In short, my uni life would be filled with my passion to do and achieve the things that I always wanted. Or so, I thought.
But, when I stepped on this continent, events unfolded in ways I had never imagined in my wildest dreams.
I missed my family terribly. Back home, everything in the world seemed achievable and possible, literally everything. And suddenly every little thing started to seem impossible to do.
My brain was constantly thinking.
How would I manage this? How would I manage that? This course is so difficult!
How will I manage work? I can’t do it (and I never even started work in sem 1).
Will I be able to maintain the scholarship? I am not even working, partying, or hanging out, but still, the academic workload alone is unmanageable. What’s wrong with me?
I need friends, I need to hang out more but I don’t have time! Where is all my time going? I do nothing much except studying, sleeping, eating, and crying. Should I drop out? Shall I change course? No, I should change university. Shall I? Well, any other uni is probably gonna be as bad as this…
Why am I still alive? Why am I an adult? What am I doing? I will let my family down.
Life is hard.
Adulting is hard.
It absolutely sucks.
I was staying with my uncle and aunt. I know they knew what I was going through because all this mental stress was apparently physically visible. My aunt would try to pick me up many times but I was still engulfed by the darkness, confusion, sadness and denial.
I remember that feeling of being surrounded by literally thousands of people, yet awfully alone. Sometimes, it hurt.
And one day, as I walked through the campus centre, all tired, worn down, hungry and sleep deprived, I just picked up an edition of Lot’s Wife.
Looking at the magazine reminded me that I was a writer. Was. That struck hard.
While I was in the metro, I came across this article where a student shared her experience of uni, comparing the feelings in the first year and the start of the second year.
I felt every word of that article related to the first-year feelings.
I re-read it all over again, as if I couldn’t believe what I had just read or maybe I just wanted to re-read it because seeing my exact feelings out there suddenly made me feel so much better.
That one article gave me hope. It gave me strength. It made me feel that I can do it. What I am feeling is kind of normal, to say the least, or more safely, I am not the only one who feels this way.
If you are reading this, Jessica Oats, a big thanks. You are one of the reasons I completed my first semester at university without giving up when I thought about giving up almost every single day before the mid-semester break. Your A Cardboard Box of Memories published in the first edition of Lot’s Wife was the beacon of light in my world totally engulfed by darkness.
One reason why I wanted to write this piece so badly was because I wanted others struggling to know that you are not alone. And maybe you are feeling how I felt, maybe some and not all of our feelings are the same.
It is a huge struggle but what is more important is not to give up.
Hope. Passion. Faith. Have faith.
Now, I am rediscovering myself.
I am finding my purpose once again.
Life remains difficult as it was a few months ago but now I am happy to traverse it. Engineering is still hard. But now it is satisfying and not a burden.
Late nights don’t drain me anymore.
Again, I have so little time and the want and urge to do so much more.
Again, I am able to figure out my thoughts and emotions and pen them down.
Again, I am ready to hustle.
Again, successfully studying at Monash, one of the top 50 engineering universities in the world, is a dream (coming true) and a kind of stubbornness.
I can, I have to, and I will.
You can, you have to, and you will.
I finally feel like I’m in the right place.