In so many ways I’m glad I’m not a fresher anymore! I really hate awkward small talk and your first year is full of it. So, what subject are you doing? What halls are you staying in? Where are you from? It gets a little repetitive. You can be a maverick and open the conversation with a curveball question like “So what type of dragon would you have, if you could own one?” But, as much as I like pondering such scenarios, in my experience, people don’t like to be caught off-guard. You will meet a lot of people trying to act ‘normal’ (although, everyone’s weird on the inside) therefore you might play at being ‘normal’ yourself.
A friend that I work with is starting university this October and so I’ve been thinking of various tips and pearls of wisdom I might give her. I found the first 3 months really hard but I don’t want to tell her, or anyone, that for fear of putting her off. She’ll have a great time, I know that for certain, but not everyone will have an amazing experience. So here is what I have to say to you, my fellow misfits.
Have you ever had that thought whilst watching some young child genius on the TV, who can recite Pi to a billion decimal places whilst playing Bach as a warm up before they cure cancer, that you’ve seriously been underachieving in your life? That your whole life up until this present point has somehow been wasted? Moreover, you feel like you were never likely to be that successful at such a young age and probably never will be; this kid is 5 and already has surpassed your life’s expectations. A depressing thought, I know, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been having this feeling recently myself. A friend of mine just went traveling around Europe for a month. Another has an amazing internship lined up. An old school friend is engaged and just bought a house. I’m not in the least bit jealous of the last friend – the thought of a mortgage and a marriage is enough to scare the pants off me. Nevertheless, what all three of my friends have in common is that they are pursuing their respective dreams. My dreams seem permanently on hold and stagnating right now; I feel like I’m constantly waiting for them to come into fruition, appearing before me in a puff of smoke. When the opportunities do come about I chicken out – the reality is almost too much to handle and I get scared!
This summer is all about jobs for me. “Are you going on holiday?” my friends ask. *Chuckle* Not likely! First, I had to set myself up for the 3 months I am away from university. To be quite honest, I was in desperate need for the money – I cannot live off my ‘home-made’ chilli con carne every day for another year. But this wasn’t my true intention; what I really wanted a job for was to get out of the house. I catch cabin fever very quickly when I’m at home because, unfortunately, my home has never felt like ‘home’. I used to live in a beautiful town called Tunbridge Wells; my friends would remind me that while I lived there I couldn’t wait to get away from it but anything is better than the suburban, white picket fences that are closing in on me now. So, to Tunbridge Wells I had to go, to reclaim my new found adult-independence and freedom (but also to earn some money to buy a Nerf gun so I can shoot my new house mates in September.)
Today I have been trawling through a paper for my philosophy of film class wittily titled, Is Realism Really Bad for You? A Realistic Response. The aim of the paper is to show that people who are honest with themselves and under no illusions about themselves are better off than those that are deluded and living in denial. I couldn’t help but think recently about how many lies I’d told to myself and to other people who are concerned about me. I was under the illusion that telling people “I’m fine” and “everything is ok” was somehow the right thing to do. It doesn’t feel like an outright lie, but what I have sneakily coined a ‘half-truth’, since nothing is wrong that warrants talking about. I have also developed a bad habit of hiding when I’m upset unless someone asks me specifically whether something hurt my feelings. So, despite all these habits, I am going to be somewhat hypocritical and defend why honesty is the better policy.
To prepare myself to write this post I am listening to the Beatles – nobody knows love like the Beatles – and I feel some preparation is necessary here because talking about affairs of the heart does not come naturally to me. More than this, I loathe writing about it because it only reminds me of cringe-worthy articles in women’s magazines. But love is an inescapable and enjoyable experience for all human beings and so I think a few words should be spent talking about it, especially in the run up to Valentine’s Day, but also with this massive change in the rules of the dating game since secondary school.
I grew up with ‘Friends’ as my educational source for adult life and what I’ve noticed is that relationships seem to have moved towards the adult ‘realm’ or ‘style’ called ‘dating’ that Rachel and others always seemed to be doing. For me, this is completely alien. I was used to a system where you were ‘asked out’ (one of the bizarrest phrases in human history) by a boy/girl and that was it – you were an item. You tended to label yourselves boyfriend/girlfriend from the off and monogamy was generally assumed. Here, at university, the old system has gone out the window. You can technically ‘date’ (also a strange and vague term) multiple people without causing offense and there are generally stages of seriousness (I have one friend with a hot chocolate stage; I’m not sure what this means but, for me, anything with chocolate is serious business.) You might work up towards becoming someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend eventually, although I couldn’t tell you how.