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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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.

A 9am lecture thought process

  • Good God, I think I’m going to die, only Satan himself could come up with something as cruel as a 9am lecture
  • Better not sit too close to the front, don’t want to draw attention to myself
  • Don’t wanna sit too far back either, my hearing isn’t great
  • Ah yes, middle of the lecture hall, perfect
  • Ok, concentrate, this is important
  • Wait, did I even bring a pen for this?
  • Oops
  • Ah sure, I’ll catch up…maybe
  • Hahaha look at the lecturer struggling with technology
  • Oh hello hot person 2 rows in front of me
  • Oh my god, will the person behind me please stop kicking my chair
  • Why did I come to college, I’m losing valuable sleep time
  • I’ll just rest my eyes for 2 minutes, that’s all
  • No oh god, wake up, Mammy isn’t paying thousands of euros for me to come here and sleep
  • I have no idea what this lecturer is talking about
  • Why are they saying this was discussed in the last lecture
  • No it wasn’t
  • Wait was I even at the last lecture?
  • Why is everyone writing, what are you all writing?!
  • I better go home and revise this myself, I need to understand it
  • Hahaha I’m not going to revise this myself
  • This probably isn’t that important, I don’t need to take it down
  • Oh my God, there’s so many split ends in my hair
  • P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
  • Why is that song stuck in my head?
  • I don’t even like that song
  • Focus!
  • I don’t need to take that down, I’ll remember it
  • Wait, what did they say again?
  • Did I really give up sleep for this?
  • Oh look, people are leaving early, maybe I should go too
  • No, too many people have left, this lecturer will say something to me if I get up to go now, better not chance it
  • So. Hungry.
  • Last 5 minutes? Better start putting my stuff away
  • Get me out of here
  • Oh my god, stop talkiiiiiing
  • FREEEEEDOMMMMMM
  • I think I might have known more coming into that lecture than I did leaving it
  • I’ll try harder to concentrate next time…maybe

How do I exams?

  1. Oh, you thought you wouldn’t have to work and college was just a babe parade for you to enjoy? Think again.
  2. The best way to deal with any exam stress is to ignore it.
  3. Never underestimate the soul healing power of chocolate.
  4. Never underestimate the soul healing power of a hot shower.
  5. One of the many things you’ll learn during study week is that you shouldn’t leave all your study til study week.
  6. Nobody likes empty promises, so don’t bother telling yourself you’ll try harder next semester to study in your spare time.
  7. You will learn things during study week you didn’t even know you were supposed to have learned about that semester.
  8. You’ll spend more time calculating your percentage in the module you’ve already gotten from previous assignments and essays.
  9. Colour coding your notes is all well and good until you realise you’re spending more time picking what colour to use next than actually learning what you’re writing.
  10. Your lowest point of study is when you haven’t showered in 2 days and start wishing you were back taking the Leaving Cert.
  11. The most annoying part about MCQs is that the right answer is literally staring at you, and you’re probably going to pick the wrong one anyway.
  12. Pray for no negative marking.
  13. All your study probably can’t be done the night before, but who doesn’t like a challenge?
  14. Accept that failing isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you.
  15. Start trying to convince your mother (in an extremely subtle manner) failing isn’t the worst thing that you could do.

What the college prospectus doesn’t tell you about UCD

  1. Sometimes the girls are really nice to each other anonymously via the bathroom stalls.Image
  2. Sometimes they’re not so nice.Image
  3. And sometimes, they’re just downright inspiring
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  4. This is the library before 9 in the morning
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  5. And this is the library any time after 9 in the morning (apologies for the bad quality, taking photos of people you don’t know isn’t exactly something I wanted to make a show of doing)
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  6. Arts kids aren’t expected to find their way around the building without the help of colours.Image
  7. And we’ve been assigned in and out doors (which for some reason people do not understand and insist on walking out the in door or in the out door…way to fight the Arts stereotype, guys!)
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  8. My favourite thing about campus is that we have a statue of an egg being fertilised for no apparent reason. Why, you ask? Why not, we say.
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What the college prospectus doesn’t tell you about English

  1. So much reading, so little time.
  2. Spark Notes is your new best friend.
  3. You’ll quickly learn that it’s possible to write an essay on a book you’ve never read.
  4. Oh, you thought you couldn’t understand Shakespeare? Wait til you meet Chaucer.
  5. If you’re still in Leaving Cert, take advantage of the fact that your teacher is analysing every detail of novels/poems etc for you.
  6. Your questioning of why you need to bother analysing certain things won’t stop in college, it’ll just get worse. (Especially if you have to do Alice In Wonderland because despite learning he was high when he wrote it, Lewis Carroll apparently left some deeper meaning in the book).
  7. Your personal opinion will never be allowed in an essay, so if you’re like me and giving opinions is all you’re good at, you’re screwed.
  8. Don’t mix up your and you’re. Just don’t do it.
  9. There’s a film adaptation of that book you’re meant to read? Hello popcorn and an evening in bed.
  10. The international students who aren’t fluent in English but are studying it are probably better at it than you.
  11. Oh, you’re a patriotic soul who has a strong dislike towards the English for those 800 years of oppression? Just do English in college and you’ll hate them for their language.
  12. Bluffing your way through essays becomes second nature.
  13. Just remember you’re not the only one sitting in the lecture hall hating English- I guarantee if you ask anyone sitting near you what they think of this English module, they’ll have the same dead eyes and lack of enthusiasm as you.
  14. You might think you enjoy reading enough to do English, but a book a week will soon become a chore.
  15. You will get about 25% of your reading list read, and will sit in class pretending you did the rest.
  16. Just don’t pick English in college, kids. Don’t do it.

How do I college?

  1. Remember all those times your teacher (English in particular) told you that you needed to have more personal opinions and responses to texts because it would be oh-so-important in college? Bullshit. As soon as you get here, you and your opinion don’t exist.
  2. As soon as you get here, you will soon realise you don’t have enough t-shirts to wear a new one everyday like you planned.
  3. All those free hours you were delighted with when you got your timetable will soon become the most dreaded part of your day either because you have so much work to get done, or you have literally nothing to do.
  4. Napping is no longer just for toddlers.
  5. Don’t be that person who shows up 40 minutes late to a 50 minute lecture. The rest of us are questioning the logic behind your decision to show up at all.
  6. You’ll soon find out that whatever book you need from the library won’t be there when you go to look for it. Or you won’t be able to find the shelf it’s on. Or you’ll find the book and see how thick it is and decide you don’t need it that much.
  7. You will have a minimum of 1 person in your group who will do nothing for the project. This is just a law of the universe.
  8. You don’t know how to reference, and probably never will.
  9. Despite not knowing how to reference, it will still be the bane of your life.
  10. The mature students can be just as scared of college as you, so don’t be a dick to them.
  11. Just don’t be a dick to anyone in general.
  12. Don’t pick English. Just trust me on this.
  13. Your student ID picture will probably be the worst picture you have ever seen of yourself.
  14. Literally no one cares whether you drink or not. They care if you act like you’re better than them if you do/don’t.
  15. You’re allowed to judge the eejits who walk around in t-shirts on cold winter mornings.
  16. Don’t be the eejit who walks around in a t-shirt on cold winter mornings.
  17. You will finally get around to watching all the seasons of that one show you’ve been meaning to watch for ages, and this will probably be the most productive thing you do all year.
  18. I don’t think anyone even knows what a normal sleeping pattern is anymore.
  19. You will soon learn you have an accent that people like to make fun of.
  20. If you come to UCD, you’ll find out that the wifi sucks.
  21. Procrastination will just become part of who you are- if you need any proof of this, just know that I spent more time writing this than I did researching for my essay.