"Sometimes difficult situations arise"

My name is James Serieux, and I am currently studying History at University College London (UCL). I run a general interest society at the university and hold multiple student ambassador roles there. Whilst doing this, I am maintaining my jobs within the ‘Streetbase’ team in Waltham Forest Council and the Life Chances Taskforce.

In the lead up to university life, at times, I felt overwhelmed by A level pressures. Alongside my attempts to maintain my relationships in school, I had to create a balance between personal time, study, school life, and sleep. There were many times that I felt I was neglecting one or the other, leading to a decline in my mental health. A similar situation occurred whilst I was at university – the pressures of looming exams plus stress to make sure my society was prosperous created plenty of difficult situations.  I had plenty of direct messages criticising me or demanding strict deadlines for things unrelated to my degree or career prospects.

To overcome these difficulties, I took some time to assess these situations. I created a basic plan that was flexible and made sure to give myself dedicated time for rest and recovery. For the ‘friends’ that put added pressure on me - I just discussed with them and explained why I couldn’t always answer their demands. If they did not understand that, I had to question my friendship with that person. There was also a councillor at university (and school) that I could talk to – they did not do any miracles, but they felt like a friend that I could vent my thoughts and feelings to, whilst providing me with a fresh perspective on how I could proceed. If the situation elevated, I could always use my ‘report and support’ services to report harassment.

The advice I would give to my peers is that hard times do pass. Sometimes difficult situations arise, and, from my experience, they become a little easier by reaching out to others or reassessing the situation. However, if it is too much for you to bear alone, please get professional support. If you are witnessing bullying and harassment, please reach out to someone with authority, whether a teacher at school or your reporting services at university. If you do feel stressed, let others know, such as friends or family – they should understand, and do not be afraid to take some alone time.