The day before my ATAR was released, my mum said to me “you are one-of-a-kind.” Half of me believed that she was being genuine, while the other half believed that she was trying to soften the blow of my result.

Come the next day, I woke up at 4am. I made a cuppa and sat on my bed, awaiting the dreaded text. The moment my phone lit up, I was stoked. I had achieved the mark I needed to get into uni.

Three years later, I still find myself sitting in a lecture hall feeling like everyone else knows what they’re doing while I have no clue why I am there.

No longer the big fish in a small pond

My high school wasn’t relatively big- there were around 600 students, give or take. It wasn’t unusual to know one another. Personally, I knew everyone. By everyone I mean the teachers, office staff, canteen ladies and the cleaners included. In return, they knew me. Well, knew of me.

In the final year of high school I was finally the big fish in a little pond. The top of the food chain. I would walk around the playground with my folder in one hand and a coffee in the other when I would skip out on the occasional English lesson. I felt invincible.

In my first year of university, I was vulnerable. Back at square one. A small fish in a big pond. In fact, I would go as far to say a small fish in an ocean.

All the confidence that I had built up in high school flew out the window. I had to socialise with unfamiliar people on a regular basis and often present each lesson with a new group each week. I became an anxious wreck.

If you’re planning on attending uni, prepare to be the most social you have ever been before. You’re thrown straight in the deep end and you’ll most likely find yourself having a group project due in two weeks that will require you to interact with unfamiliar faces.

A number, not a name

Throughout high school, teachers get to know you quite well- they are the ones that see you five days a week. At the very least, they know your name.

However, when you’re at university, you’ll often be known by your student number. In their defence it can be hard to keep track of names. There can be over 30,000 students enrolled into one university.

I once had a lecturer who didn’t know my name for the whole semester. I had participated quite actively and yet he still couldn’t muster up the memory.

To be honest, it’s fair enough. Some university teachers have over 150 students to look after in one class. However, it is still disheartening and quite embarrassing when you’re called the wrong name. A+ for effort though.

Uni isn’t what it’s cracked out to be. It’s challenging and it can tear your confidence down pretty darn quick. I can pinpoint the exact moment- when I received my first mark back in Contract Law in first year.

It’s easy to lose your way and feel like you’re not special when you’re at uni. Don’t be discouraged. Uni doesn’t define who you are and just because you no longer feel like the higher achiever, or the king of the school, doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.

Uni made me realise I wasn’t special, yeah, and that was tough. It’s always a rude shock realising that you’re not as smart, or important, or as confident as you once thought you were. But that doesn’t make you any less of the person, nor does it mean you should give up on the uni dream.

As my mum would say, you are one-of-a-kind, and once you get through that first year, you’ll realise there’s more important parts of uni life than feeling like a big fish, trust me.