Freshers Guide: advice to my younger self

Every day this week, Facebook has been reminding me that four years ago today I was a fresher at university. Freshers’ Week was the most exhilarating, nerve-wracking, depressing and fun week of my life (minus, perhaps, my Year 13 trip to Kavos, of course).

And it was four years ago. I won’t lie: it doesn’t feel like it was yesterday. It feels like it was a lifetime ago and that it was happening to someone who was not me. Because a lot has changed in four years and I am a completely different person – a slightly-less neurotic mess rising from the ashes of my insecure hot mess former self.

I’m feeling nostalgic, as are many of my uni friends. But I also feel like there are certain things I regret. So I thought I’d write a letter to my 18-year-old self of things I wish I could tell her about university…

You will make friends

I won’t lie to you, the first week is tough. On your first night you sob yourself to sleep because you lose your flatmates in the club and are convinced you’ll spend three years alone.

Little do you know that you will make friends. Great friends. Weird and wonderful friends who don’t judge you for naming penises or throwing up after two cans of Fosters (okay, maybe they do a little bit…).

You don’t need to study

In your first month of uni, you’ll try and fail to do all of your reading. You’ll tun up to a seminar on Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, take a strong viewpoint and be steadily shut down by someone who has done their reading.

None of that matters, of course. Do not skip a night out to prepare for an essay. The whole year doesn’t count.

Don’t write on toilet doors

When you’re drunk and sitting on the loo, it seems like a great idea to write an inspirational quote on the door. It’s not. You will lose many of your favourite lipsticks and eyeliners after writing “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” on a club toilet door.

Speak out when you feel uncomfortable

First year may be fun but you will meet some questionable characters. Boys who make up a chant about their Arger ovens, for instance. People will say mean things and inevitably pick on someone – someone who happens to be your friend. You may not want to rock the boat, but please just speak out and stand up for your pal. You will never speak to that group of people again (nor desire to), but that pal is your pal for life.

Walk away from unhealthy relationships

You will fall in love with someone at uni and that relationship will quickly become intense and unhealthy. You will obsess over why he hasn’t messaged you when he was online three minutes ago. You will fight with him constantly about tiny things but your love will be “too strong” for you to break up. You’ll listen to ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ all day, every day.

I think everyone’s first relationship is a bit fucked up, because that’s how we learn. But if I could give you some advice, it would be this: if things aren’t adding up, start subtracting. If anyone – a partner or friend – makes you more sad than happy, then walk away.

Don’t drunk email your professor

And certainly don’t address him as “Sir”. You are not in 50 Shades of Grey.

Sign up for societies with nice people

Do not sign up for cheerleading every year just because you love the uniform – you never go to practice because everyone scares you.

Creative writing classes are too deep

In your first creative writing seminar, the teacher will ask everyone to say their deepest fears. In a room full of “death”, “ageing” and “the afterlife”, you will come out with “things that make me jump – like balloons popping.”

Sleep with whoever, whenever and wherever

So much of your time is spent worrying that you are a “dutty hoe”. Firstly, that is ridiculous because you will only have a couple of one night stands. Secondly, so what if you are? Embrace it.

Don’t hysterically cry on the train if you “do bits” in a park in London. Especially when, after 20 minutes of wailing, not one single commuter will ask if you’re okay.

Remember you are not boring

It will take you a long time to finally realise this. You will cry after a night out because, while dancing in a circle of your best friends, you didn’t have eye contact with anyone.

You will convince yourself that you are boring, then get in a habit of drinking too much Tequila on a night out and listening to the Les Mis soundtrack before you go to sleep.

Finally, however, you will realise that you are not boring. There is actually no such thing as a boring person – there are just people who we have less in common with.

So stop being so hard on yourself, and worrying what others think, and remember that you’re great.


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