When I tell people I go to Oxford University, they look at me with admiration. “Wow, that’s fantastic,” they say. “You must have the best time there.” There’s not much else to do but smile and agree. You know that, for most people, this is an incredible achievement, but that can’t overcome the feeling of dread you feel at the start of every term.
People say I must be really clever, but most of the time I feel incredibly stupid. At school, I was the best at my subject, one of 10 from my year to get into Oxbridge, but here I am decidedly subpar. I spend my time desperately trying to complete my work, only to get it back full of corrections in red or with no comments at all.
If I’m ill, I feel about guilty lying in bed, staring at the pile of books on my desk. An email from my tutor refusing to extend the deadline only makes it worse. I shouldn’t be lying in bed, I’m not that ill; I’ll dose myself up and be fine. I drag myself to the library and sit in the corner. The words are swimming in front of my eyes, but I power through. The sooner I finish it, the sooner I can go back to bed. I meet the deadline, knowing it is one of my worst attempts this term.