11 April 2022 | Rhianna Thomas
I’ve always been involved in theatre groups ever since I was in primary school. It felt like a place I absolutely, definitely belonged. I was good at it, I got along with everyone else who was good at it, and it felt like a place for me no matter what. So, drama was my thing!
I decided to pursue my passion, after all nothing else could ever compare to how much I enjoyed and excelled in theatre. And that was it, I was going to university to study the subject! However, moving from my community-based, small town theatre groups and GCSE performance exams to studying at university was a big shift in how I felt and experienced theatre. Not only was I thrust into an educational institution which I was far too naïve to understand, I also discovered a sense of uncertainty and hesitancy towards theatre which had not experienced prior.
I think that feeling out of place is pretty easy to understand and describe, it’s the awkwardness, the alert, anxious feeling that everyone around you knows something you don’t, and they’re looking at you, and they’re judging you for not knowing. When I experience a sense of being unwelcome in a space, my natural instinct is to get the hell out of there. Or, to keep my head down, ignore the stares, and try to say the right thing.
My first few weeks at university had me feeling this way, out of place, and I was way out of my depth. Imposter syndrome is certainly not uncommon in university students, and I was feeling its full, unwavering force upon me as I set foot into my university theatre building. It seemed that everyone had an answer for everything, everyone kept up with ease, somehow everyone had already found their cliques and connections before they’d even arrived. Everyone was from a big city, had experienced more culture than I knew was even out there, everyone was so talented. Was anybody else feeling at all out of place?
Turns out, yes, yes, double yes! Everybody was well and truly faking it till they were making it through the first weeks, even months, of university, and if you think you weren’t, you’re probably lying. You may think I’m just saying this to make myself feel better about the awkward, confused personality I had at 18, freshly into my studies, but that is simply not true. Now being in third year, I’ve had many reflective conversations on first year and how people felt, and surprisingly, and I guess reassuringly, most others had a similar feeling to me. I do feel it important to note that also, luckily for me, I have found a new love for theatre and performance through my university experience, and have since shed the imposter syndrome, and I have learnt so much about my passion of theatre and also myself.
To conclude this, I feel that what I’ve learnt from my experience of moving to a new city to pursue something I love, is that there is actually no need to ‘fake it till you make it’, because nobody even cares half as much about you as they do about themselves. This doesn’t just apply to moving to university, but practically anything that may be new and nerve-wracking. You deserve to be there just as much as anybody else, so own it and forget anybody else!