Having survived my first semester at university, albeit somewhat haphazardly, I like to think that I have already learned a great number of things with regards to surviving the ‘outside world’. In what I hope will become something of a ‘how-to’ series, I will share my snippets of advice alongside my first-hand woes that naturally stem from a girl who has yet to master the art of living smoothly.
A lot can rest in first impressions- it is the difference between being ‘that intelligent female who knows a lot about 17th century literature’ and being ‘that girl who parades around with yesterday’s lasagne stuck to her face’. And never are first impressions quite so important than when you start university; when every impression is both first and nightmarishly immortal. It’s not breaking news to reveal that a drunken slobbery kiss the night before is a terribly awkward encounter in Tesco’s the day after.
But even those ‘did I really lick his face last night?’ encounters do not compare to the events of my first day of higher education. It started with the mishap we all dread- walking into the wrong class- complete with a sorry face of pleading embarrassment together with lost eyes longing for a hug and a forgiving cup of tea. The mathematics seminar group looked almost offended when I asked if this was the literature seminar. It wasn’t.
But all hope was not lost.
I turned around to see a young man waiting in the seats opposite the room I had attempted to enter. He was witness to my shortcoming and in a blaze of nervous adrenaline I blurted out my unrefined introductions. ‘Are you waiting for this room?’. I was relieved to learn that he was indeed waiting for the same class as me and- seeing a fine opportunity to start my quest for making friends- I began to chant my pleasantries.
‘Oh! That’s so cool! Where are you from?! That’s awesome! I’m from North Yorkshire! I really like your jumper! Do you have any plans for tonight?! That sounds awesome! Me? Oh! I need a night off, had a bit of a mad one last night that ended in me and my flatmates comparing dolphin impressions in the kitchen! …So, is it American literature you’re studying?’
‘Oh no’ he said.
‘I’m teaching it.’
And that is how not to make a fruitful first impression with your lecturers.
I would estimate that I have least 43 epiphanies everyday. Some are inevitable insane like my decision to take maths at A-level or waking up at half 6 each morning in order to see more of the day. (Both of these, as you can imagine, didn’t end too well!)
I find it very difficult to trust myself. A thought entirely formed in my frazzled head doesn’t always feel like one I should go by, not least dedicate time to.
Yet, on the rare occasion, my leaps of faith turn out for the better.
For example, one of my new years resolutions (yes, I occasionally conform to society’s trivialities!) was to start only drinking water and whatever the date is today will be the number of days I have stuck to it.
Although that means I have given up my beloved cranberry juice and my bladder appears to take great joy in waking me up at crazy hours in the night, I have already started to feel better for it.
Not so long ago I had a potentially life-changing epiphany. I spent many hours and days arguing with myself, trying to convince myself that it was just another of my crazy ideas spouted from a mind that isn’t always the most solid. But, there was no talking myself out of it.
After the reassurance and even encouragement of my family, friends and teachers my one-off epiphany I had at 3 in the morning has now turned to reality.
Although it may not seem like a big deal, in fact the more I think about it, the less big it becomes, I have decided to spend another year in my home town before leaving for uni.
This isn’t because of my grades nor is it due to some aspiration of mine to see all corners of the world before my nineteenth birthday.
I’m doing it entirely for myself.
Before I leave my home I want to be the best person I can be and I know what I need to change in order for that to happen. I want to undo my mistake of taking maths and complete an A-level in art, amongst other things.
I now feel a lot less pressure and I’m happier for it.
Just don’t be afraid to occasionally trust your early-hour epiphanies, even if you know that they will seem even a little crazy the next morning.
As a seventeen year old, it is only natural that I think I know more than I actually do. However, the following list of life tips have stemmed from first-hand experiences and I whole heartedly believe in the importance of all of them.
#1 Never Settle For Less
Perhaps an obvious one for many, but I can shamefully admit that I learnt it the hard way. Of course one must always leave room for compromise, but if you find yourself falling short, whether it’s in a relationship or even a school project, don’t be afraid to make that change because it may only lead to your own downfall.
#2 ‘Don’t regret what you do, regret what you don’t do’
I love this motto and not just because it is wonderfully catchy. For me, at least, this phrase means I don’t have to beat myself up too much about mistakes I have made, which is handy since I certainly make my fair share! Never fear regret in the face of something you wish to do, unless, of course, it involves mutilating your neighbour’s pet cat Muffin!
#3 If you’re 7 years old, do not watch ‘Jaws’
At the ripe young age of seven, my greatest fear was walking into my pantry and being eaten alive by a Great White shark. Although I may have been unaware of the basic living requirements of fish, I was certainly nothing less than emotionally scarred after my mother convinced me to watch a ‘nice film’ about the severing of arms and blood-ridden beaches. Even to this day, entering the sea requires an abnormal amount of courage.
Whilst many people enjoy a spot of gardening now and again; for some it is even a relaxing pastime, I see it as a purely harrowing nightmare which I instinctually attempt to avoid.
Today, however, was unfortunately one of those few days in the year when it becomes impossible to ignore the sheer height of my garden’s shrubbery and so the bullet was bitten.
Armed with secateurs and a dustbin, the events of the afternoon would prove to only strengthen my distaste for gardening and its accompanying horrors.
Unfortunately for anyone who may cross my path, I am quite prone to vocally-unusual outbursts from fright as well as unhesitating profanity. A particular patron today, for example, had clearly never experienced a spider falling on to him as he picked up on a certain f-bomb which accidentally fell from my exasperation. But I suppose that is what comes from living in a town that contains almost more churches than residents.
My luck with patrons didn’t even end there.
One man across the street apparently found great amusement in a girl with secateurs who clearly had no idea what she was doing as he laughed at every branch and scream that I couldn’t control.
But as the dirt started to make its way across my face and my hair became a mesh of leaves, I was passed by a most unfortunate person.
My exboyfriend’s mother.
She is certainly a lovely person, and even stopped for a short chat with me.
That is, the ‘me’ who could have been mistaken for an armed hooligan who hadn’t fancied a wash for a few months.
So, whilst many people may have spent their Sunday in sanctity and collectivity, I once again prove that I am an unlucky specimen of the human condition who shouldn’t be let to roam the streets, never mind let loose in a garden. If only for my own morality.
It was when I was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room yesterday that I had the (greatly overdue) epiphany that perhaps, on the occasion, doing as you’re told can be the lesser of two evils. When you have to spend an entire hour in the company of an array of people with an even wider array of ailments, I suppose your own mind inevitable fumbles over the reasons why you managed to secure your very own spot there.
Unfortunately (and rather ironically) for me, common sense is actually quite a rarity and so when the piercer told me not to take out the piercing within 12 weeks, that’s exactly what I did. Ohhh, and how I suffered!
Waking up to see that my ear looked like it had come straight out of the gruesome side of Google Images, I almost half prepared myself for a very Van Gogh solution. It was so gruesome in fact, I sincerely wanted to spare any doctor the horrors of it’s ghastly complexion!
So after a tiny bit of very painful prodding and poking, I am now on a course of antibiotics (and shame) for my foolish ways!
Since I certainly would never wish to scar anyone with images of infected ears, here is a drawing of Bob Dylan… it’s amazing what you can find yourself doing at 3 a.m.!
Now, as much as I am familiar with the mindset of a characteristic ‘weirdo’, it would surely be impossible for me to hold the key to wooing the hearts of each one of them.
It’s because of this I shall be concentrating on the do’s and don’ts of how to woo the weirdo which I know best.
But, who knows, perhaps there are others like myself out there (however much we may pray otherwise) and in which case, you are only moments away from learning the secrets to securing their love.
I realise that this is a tricky one as it’s not exactly easy to change but I adore characteristic noses. By that, I mean, I find noses which are full of character alluring and attractive. They don’t call me weirdo for nothing!
I’m going to assume that this one isn’t quite a rarity although when I was younger I was made an outcast for having an open crush on a very bearded teacher. I love hair. Perhaps it’s my primal blunder but I go weak at the knees for hairy knees!
#3 Quirky talents
Shamefully it wasn’t even that long ago when I thought that I had fallen in love with a man after he had completed a Rubik’s cube in front of my very eyes. Admittedly that seems a little crazy now but I suppose a peculiar skill corresponds with a peculiar, and all the more interesting, personality. Other quirky talents include telekinesis, fire-breathing and juggling.
Perhaps I am just easily impressed (or more snobby than I’d ever like to admit) but there is nothing more attractive than person who knows their ‘your’ from their ‘you’re’. As far as I’m concerned text language is the script of Satan n if u use it u luk kinda silly in ma opinion k?
As an avid reader I often find myself falling for the characters which are, in effect, just words on a page. Inky yet attractive, whether it’s the charming Mr. Darcy or the mysterious Heathcliff, I can’t get enough of those fictional fellas! (Warning: Ink poisoning is actually a thing so it’s probably best not to take this one too literally!)
And there you have it, my top tips in wooing a weirdo! I am, however, positive that there are many other, inconceivable ways to win their hearts and I shouldn’t doubt that imagination will prove very handy in your endeavor.
‘The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind’- Bob Dylan
Most people are afraid of it.
Some people spend their lives trying to hide from it.
And a number of people even refrain from attempts to succeed because of it.
What is it?
A word that undoubtedly crosses all of our minds; it looms over us and is always ready to fight its corner.
‘Don’t enter that talent show, you’re only going to fail’
This self-doubt is painfully destructive for many people who would otherwise succeed or at least gain something from an experience.
So why are we so afraid of this contrived condition?
There’s a rather key example from my own life that comes to mind when I think of just how destructive this word can be…
My last relationship, for example, was an utter disaster. Out of it, I became a broken bit of mush.
But it didn’t have to be like that.
In fact, I wanted to end it before it hit the rock bottom that it did… and I know this because I had this exact train of thought…
‘I can’t break up with him because that would mean that I have failed.‘
Was the thought of ‘failure’ SO bad that I was willing to carry on being unhappy just to avoid it?!
Damn you past-and-unforgivably-silly Anna!
(And whilst we’re on the topic of past-tellings-off….
DON’T YOU DARE INSTALL SIMS BECAUSE YOU WILL WASTE MANY VALUABLE HOURS ON IT!)
Back to the point though, I wholly believe that it’s so vital to realise that failure is not something to be afraid of.
Since I have accepted this I have failed at many things… standing for head girl, becoming a published poet and I even failed a maths test (although the latter is not advised!)
Embrace failure because it will only otherwise hinder success.
And just in case you’re in need of a little more proof…
Isaac Newton first failed at farming before he became a scholar at Cambridge University.
Dr. Suess was rejected 27 times before being published.
Marilyn Monroe’s first contract with Columbia Pictures ended because they told her she wasn’t pretty or talented enough to be an actress.
So, let the failing begin!