Student blog: We all struggle sometimes, and it’s ok to admit that
Being an international student is hard. We have to do well in school, keep our finances in check, keep a roof over our heads and start to figure out a career.
This year, I took on more commitments outside of school. I became a Brisbane International Student Ambassador, a co-creative director of a theatre show and I presented a concept to the Queensland Government as part of my school work. Meanwhile, I had to maintain a respectable GPA to keep my scholarship. All these projects show an image that I am a real capable person. I’m not going to lie - even my social media feed of events and well-taken photographs further perpetuate this (rather false) image that I’ve got my life together.
Under the sheen and gloss of those achievements and my social media feed, there was a lot of struggling. Everything people see is a great line to put on a resume and really great stuff to put on social media. But behind all this, there was a lot of struggling. A struggle to do well in school and make good content for the show. A struggle to grasp theories and concepts at school. A struggle to conceptualise and edit all the videos I was making. I was constantly worrying about how to get things done, whether my work was good enough and whether I was good enough.
I took to social media recently on R U Ok day to share that struggle:
There was this period of three weeks when I could not produce good quality work. I was constantly stuck with my work, getting stressed as deadlines approached and feeling frustrated with not being able to be productive or creative. No matter how early I got up or how hard I tried to relax and get away from the stress, nothing seemed to get better.
I had to confront the problem honestly and that was when I realised the issue. I needed to properly disconnect from the frustration and the work, and to reconnect with things I like and release the stress in my own way.
It is very easy for us to try and maintain this image that we are all capable and have everything together. This is especially true for me when, for some reason, people compliment me. It is human nature to want to feel validated. It is also equally human to feel overwhelmed.
When that happens, I think the best way is to acknowledge that you are overwhelmed and figure out how to relax. Everyone has their own way to release stress, and you should be honest about yours. For me, what never fails is to binge watch shows or YouTube videos. It also appeals to my inner introvert. For my extroverted friends, maybe what works is to hang out with your friends at Brisbane’s best coffee spots, enjoy a meal at your favourite restaurant, or go on a spontaneous getaway.
I hope by sharing my struggle, it helps others realise that feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you a failure. It shows that you care about what you do. I also hope everyone checks in with themselves and understands that it is okay to admit you’re struggling when you feel overwhelmed.
It’s important to balance your academic pressure with your mental health while you’re studying overseas. If you are feeling depressed, talk to your student service staff at your institution. You can also choose to seek professional help by seeing a psychologist.
In Brisbane, you can come talk to Brisbane Student Hub in person at 28 Dibley St, Woolloongabba QLD 4102 or call 07 3337 5400 during office hours. Study Queensland also offer 1800QSTUDY hotline (1800 778 839) for 24/7 support, referrals on health, safety and well-being – translation service available.
There are many organisations across Australia who will be able to help in times of need:
- Lifeline (24/7) 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au
- Suicide Call Back Service (24/7) 1300 659 467 suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- Beyond Blue (24/7) 1300 224 636 beyondblue.org.au
- SANE Australia: 1800 18 SANE (7263) sane.org
- Headspace (for young people aged 12–25 years) They have 55 centres across Australia and offer free services in areas such as general health, education and employment, mental health. Call 1800 650 890.