So, here I am, a little more than halfway through my first year and reminiscing on how far I’ve come as a person as a result of living almost entirely independently. After moving away from home, small elements of living without parents probably came as quite a shock to most of us and some parts of independent life were more of a shock than others.
Suddenly, you have to wash your own clothes, do all your dishes, buy groceries and cook for yourself. Chores aren’t just something you can put off because it’s you who has to face the consequences and above all else, if you make a mistake, your parents aren’t there to fix it. Managing finances is incredibly daunting and you sit at your desk procrastinating, afraid to view your bank account because you’re scared to face up to the realities of almost-adulthood. You still feel like you should be able to avoid all responsibilities and this is all a very strange dream. Yet, responsibilities build up into a small mountain which you’re convinced you’re too unfit to climb. It’s hard not to just focus on the peak and to realise that you’re really just climbing a slightly bigger hill than what you’re used to.
Self-motivation was something I personally really struggled with. Sometimes missing a lecture and wasting a small sum of the £9,000 a year you’re spending is far more tempting than it should be because it’s so easy to sleep through your alarm. But, all decisions have consequences and I learned that very quickly. As a kid and a young teenager I’d always wondered why adults didn’t sleep all day and party all night since they no longer had restraints. It recently dawned on me that in doing whatever you want, whenever you want, you are restricting the freedom of your future self and in order to maintain a happy and problem-free future, the decisions you make right now are so important.
The taste of independence
But, remember when your parents dragged you along to horrendous events because they promised you’d be there, or forced you to sit through awkward dinner parties? That doesn’t happen in halls. Nor does anyone complain about your poor nutrition values, the untidiness of your room or your regular, extremely late bedtimes. You suddenly have the freedom to binge-watch, sleep and drink what you like, as much as you like and whenever you like because you’re only a fresher once; you wake up in the morning, covered in your own sick with a hangover the size of Africa and no memory of the night before. You feel great. You’re living your university life to the full and you’ve finally broken from your parents’ reigns.
Here comes the enlightenment
Your parents put restrictions on you for a reason. Your hangover is so bad that you vow never to drink again, but you still do of course. Perhaps that drunk feeling is worth it for the pain the next morning. Either way it is now up to you to make the decision as to whether you should go and get absolutely car parked the night before that all important 9am start or whether you should have a quiet night in catching up on some work. I’ve begun to observe the way many students are coping with their new found freedom. Many have got over the surge of mad decisions that are made in the first semester but some are still damaging themselves in the desperate bid to maintain the ultimate freedom.
Self-motivation may be easier for some but for others there needs to be a downward spiral in order to get back on your feet again, but once you’ve mastered the art of self discipline, you are well on your way to achieving incredible things without being dragged down by others. It is incredibly hard to shift your dependence from teachers and family to yourself, and it’s easy to forget, when your kitchen is being cleaned for you, that it’s still your job to be a grown-up and look after the place. You don’t have to eat your greens even though you know you damn well should. You know what’s good for you, what you like and how far you can be pushed and that feeling is fantastic; in this way, the ability to do things independently, and to be in charge of your own decisions, is kind of liberating.
Ultimately you should make the most of your freedom as a university student. This really is the best time to do as many things as you possibly can in your interest, because you now have the time. Whilst money is an issue for many students, with some financing skills and a little bit of help from relatives, you can have the experiences of a lifetime. And what’s more, most places have student discounts or even give students opportunities for free. Take it and make it your own.