Moving away from home to go to university means having to develop a high level of independence. However, becoming isolated and trying to tackle every challenge you face on your own can be exhausting and counter-productive. Midwifery student Julia Wilson is coming to the end of her time at The University of Manchester and, as she explains, she couldn’t have done it without the people around her.
I recently came across a quote that said, ‘The only person who can give you everything is you’. This quote is one of many that, when taken too seriously, can feed into an isolated and narrow life view, and is a quote I couldn’t agree with less. Over the course of my midwifery degree, I’ve become more and more aware of the essential role the people around me have to play. And, along with my cohort of midwifery students, I feel grateful to so many people in and beyond uni who have supported, enriched, and enlivened our experience.
These are a few of these people:
The lecturer, who when I didn’t understand, took time to prepare extra resources and to talk it through with me when she could have been heading home to her family. This means I now feel confident in my management of several midwifery emergencies.
The housemates who have sat with me so many times so I didn’t have to eat breakfast or dinner alone after a long, tiring, and sometimes emotional shift. This means I got to talk through my experiences and make sense of them with someone who understood. Getting their perspective as fellow midwifery students has massively broadened my horizons.
The women who, immediately after the most painful and beautiful ordeal of their lives – childbirth – had the brain space to thank me for my part in it. The partners, who even when shattered from being up all night with a labouring wife, still offer to buy me sweets from the shop.
The church friends who encourage me to do volunteering with the homeless, go for meals and host social events. Friends who bring me cakes, give me lifts, and take my mind off my degree every now and again. It turns out one thing you definitely cannot fully rely on yourself for is a social life!
And finally, the placement mentors, who seem to have endless patience when it’s three years down the line and I’m still checking with them how to use the hospital bleep system to contact one of the doctors. Mentors who have taught me not only practical skills, but how to communicate sensitively and effectively, and how to manage emotionally charged situations with compassion.
Now, I’m not saying I have everything, but I do feel extremely privileged to have studied at a respected university, lived in a world-famous city, and been a part of so many families’ lives at such a memorable time. And none of this would have happened on my own. So moving forward, yes, we should still believe in ourselves, but let’s also believe in the people around us. Let’s aim to be individuals who support, enrich and enliven those we meet, as so many have done for us during our training.