‘So what are you studying?’ – the phrase you hear most as a university student.

‘A Bachelor of Behavioural Science,’ is my reply, followed by, ‘so basically psychology’ due to the blank face they give me.

‘Oh yeah, and where do you go from there?’ My second most heard phrase. I take a deep breath before answering.

‘Well, my course is three years, but then I need to do honours and then go on to do masters or a PhD and from that I can become a clinical psychologist.’ I’ve said this more times than I’ve said my name, I swear.

This is also what I’ve been telling people for the last eight years. Not that I’ve been doing my bachelor for eight years, but I just knew since the beginning of high school that that was what I wanted to do.

Till now.

Since I’m only in the bachelor, I need to apply for honours. They told us this in first year and it’s all I remember from the one hour tutorial about where psych can take you. That, as well as the standard ‘there are lots of things you can do’. I’m a little sketchy on the details though – who needs to pay attention to what’s going to happen in three years’ time? – probably past me.

So at the beginning of this year I decided I should probably figure out how you go about getting into that honours thing. I went to the School of Psychology site and found all the honours info (which did actually take some time since finding anything specific on the Flinders site is ridiculously impossible). Reading through the info it says applications open in September – awesome, don’t have to worry about it for months, I think to myself. Then I see this: ‘Research Warning!’ printed in large, red letters. This was followed by ‘honours … has research work as a major component’, meaning the thesis (well duh), and ‘research, statistics and research methodology are a large component of coursework topics. If not keen on stats, method and research, might want to consider other opportunities’. Shit.

Cue my first quarter life crisis for the year.

Up until this point, life had been going pretty smoothly. My friends and I were all catching up and spending time together, my boyfriend and I were doing okay, I knew where I was going in life, and what I was going to end up with. I always knew I’d have to figure out what to do when honours came around, but I went into university going ‘it’s alright, I’ve just started. I have three years to figure it out’. Now suddenly I’m in that third year and everything’s coming along a whole lot quicker than I thought.

It’s like being on a roller coaster and you’re supposed to figure out while you’re on the ride that you’re meant to pull the break yourself, if you can find it.

From this point, it just went downhill; I didn’t know if I wanted to do honours any more since I hate research work. I had enough trouble in year twelve doing the great and mighty ‘research project’. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I finished my bachelor. My boyfriend and I finally sat down and actually verbalised how our relationship wasn’t working. Two of my best friends, who had been going out for three years, broke up, and with the return of uni, seeing everyone regularly was an impossibility. On top of all this, my dad lost his job and my grandmother passed away suddenly. Life was chaotic and I felt crap.

And sometimes I still do. I’m not entirely sure how I even got through it all. Setting aside some time, however, to just think about everything that’s come to pass (while drinking copious amounts of tea) has been good for me to keep in touch with where I am now and how I got there. Also opening up to my friends and telling them how I was feeling meant that I didn’t feel like I was carrying everything on my own. Every now and then something reminds me of how things were and I get myself all worked up about it. But in time I’ll learn to move on from it, just like I do with every other problem that comes my way.

I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with my life yet, but hey, I’m only twenty, so I have plenty of time to freak out about that later. For now I’m focusing on completing my bachelor and thinking about different areas of work that might interest me. I miss the comfort and security I had at the beginning of my first year of uni. Cliché as it is, if it’s meant to be, it’ll work itself out – and that goes for a lot of things. While I’m not able to see my friends as much as I’d like, we make sure to frequently ask each other how we are and if we’re dealing with everything okay, to remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter how crazy life gets, there are always going to be people to help you through it.

Words by: Tamsin Alexander