While my friends were getting high and chasing girls down parkway lines I was losing my mind

I used to keep a diary (and by diary I mean I opened up Microsoft Word and wrote a couple of sentences about how I felt that day). It’s been nearly a year since I wrote anything in it but I just found it and decided to have a read and see what ridiculous things I used to write about. I completely forgot that when I used to keep this ‘diary’ I was completely miserable and not enjoying college in the slightest and just generally hating everything.

I’ll take you back to semester 2 of my first year of college, around the time I started keeping track of my thoughts. My anxiety was at an all time high, I was having panic attacks at least 3 times a week and avoiding going to classes because of it, I was eating a Chinese takeaway at least twice a week (which doesn’t actually sound all that terrible but when you put on weight and you’re already miserable with yourself, it’s awful). I remember crying myself to sleep every second night until I got home at the weekend. Semester 2 of my first year of college was, as you’ve probably gathered, an awful awful time for me.

But the reason I’m talking about the diary I found is because there was one post in particular that just got to me. I wrote it on the 22nd of March last year and it has just one simple sentence;
“It’s easier to like yourself when other people like you.”
I don’t recall exact details of what was going on around then, but I do remember how I felt about myself. Like 99% of the world, I struggled (and sometimes still do I guess) with self esteem issues. If you had asked me to pick out my least favourite thing about myself when I wrote that diary entry, I honestly don’t know how long we’d have been talking about all the things wrong with me. Don’t get me wrong, I can still give you a long list of things I’m not too fond of about myself but what I’ve managed to learn in the last year is that there’s more important to just let it go and to stop being apologetic for the way I look and to start to actually like myself.

I guess the whole reason the diary post got to me was just because I can’t remember what it’s like to be that sad about things. The last year hasn’t been perfect, and it’s taken a long time to get over a lot of my own problems with…well, me, but it’s been worth it. I’ve surrounded myself with some really excellent people who have unknowingly made me feel better about myself just from really simple things that they do. I’ve become one of those people that enjoys working out (I know, I kind of hate me for that too) simply because it makes me feel better about myself. I’ve got things to look forward to, I’ve got the company of wonderful people, I’ve got it pretty good.

But the main thing I’ve learned is that it’s more fun being unapologetically happy than anything else.

There was another diary entry I found. It was written exactly a month after the other one I’ve already mentioned and it too is only a sentence long;
“Fuck anyone who says you can’t choose to be happy.”
It takes a lot more than just waking up one day and deciding you’re gonna be happy, but when you get to the point where you do want to make a change, fucking do it and don’t look back because I promise you it’s not gonna be easy and it’s certainly never gonna be perfect, but it’s most definitely worth it.

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How do I Leaving Cert? Part 2

  1. Your graduation will be an emotion-filled night with really heartfelt conversations and there might even be some tears…but then you’ll all be really embarrassed about it because 2 weeks later you see each other again for the exams.
  2. Opening your exam papers and trying to predict what’s going to come up this year doesn’t count as study.
  3. Geography students: learn off the Sue Honan revision book and you’ll be fine.
  4. You’re focusing so much on the poetry part of the English paper that you’re forgetting the story/essay is worth 25%.
  5. Don’t be the fool I was and focus so much on the poetry that you panicked when it didn’t appear on Paper 1 (if you don’t understand why it’s ridiculous to panic over that, you should probably open your exam papers and start taking this thing seriously)
  6. Sticking in song lyrics to your story is a clever plan, but an even cleverer plan is stealing the storyline to a book you’ve read and tweaking it to suit the title (I stole a chapter from Stephen King’s ‘Salems Lot’ and guess who got an A1)
  7. Someone is going to cry after the maths exam.
  8. Avoid History students before and after their exam because that is the kind of panic you do not need to surround yourself with.
  9. It’s best not to mention to your mother you left your exam after an hour.
  10. It’s even better not to leave your exam after an hour.
  11. Don’t overdo the ‘Granny lit a candle for me’ jokes the night before exams.
  12. It’s gotten to the point where you need to stop blaming your lack of knowledge on how terrible your teacher was and just sit down and learn it.
  13. I hate to break it to you, but the exams aren’t actually the worst part of the Leaving Cert; wait til the night before the results come out and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
  14. Don’t steal the debs money. Don’t be that person.

The pros and cons of a college students life

College has its advantages and disadvantages, but you won’t discover most of them until you actually get here. So here I am, being a kind soul and passing on a bitta wisdom that I’ve learned (so far) from my college experience to try help people understand what they’re really getting themselves into.

PROS

  • Meeting new people: you get to come to college, clean slate and meet some other cool college kids. The best part about meeting all the new folk in college is reusing old jokes and stories your current friends are sick of hearing.
  • Freedom: No more uniform, no more teachers telling you what to do and when to do it for, no more being forced to go to classes. You get to decide what you do and when you do it (you can even go out on a Monday night if you wish it… I think for a lot of students this becomes a necessity mainly to help them cope with the rest of the week)
  • Bragging rights: You never have to do a Leaving Cert again.
  • New house, new family…of sorts: You get a break from the constant nagging to empty the dishwasher and from the younger siblings ridiculous arguments. Suuure, you might get unlucky and end up living with people worse than your family (almost seems unfathomable, I know) but at least no one’s judging you for not getting out of bed at 2 in the day.

CONS

  • Meeting new people: You have to start off with the whole “hi, how are you, where are you from, what are you studying” kind of conversations, and let’s face it, no one cares about that stuff. Everyone wants to get straight to the over emotional, weirdly deep 3am chats. And then you have to consistently question whether you’ve reached the point in the friendship where you’re allowed to insult one another and just be a weirdo without judgement. And you’ll miss your old friends. A lot.
  • Freedom: You might think teachers are a pain by constantly telling you to have an essay done for a certain day, or for nagging about your study, but when you show up to college and no one is telling you what to have done and when to have it done by, nothing is done. And sure, that sounds like a great life but come exam time, you’re going to question when you ever had to study certain topics and hate yourself for not keeping track of your work. And the no uniform thing is a bit of hassle too when you don’t know whether or not people are going to judge you for wearing the same shirt 2 days in a row.
  • No Mammy: Once you start being the person who gets you out of bed every morning and making your own food, you’ll appreciate your mother ten times more (you’ll just never tell her that). And you might think living away from home is going to be brilliant, but let me tell you, homesickness is the worst when it strikes. There’s nothing I miss more when I’m sitting in my college room than the regular 9 o clock argument with my dad over what film we should put on. Appreciate those stupid little things while you can cause college is lonely as fuck sometimes.
  • Money: Haha. Good luck with this aspect of college life.