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7 Things You ‘Realise’ in College

Disclaimer: Yes, the title is a direct reference to Kylie Jenner’s infamous “year of realising things” statement which, although totally taken the piss out of, applies quite accurately to many of our First Year experiences in college. One could argue that our First Year of college is in fact the official year of “realising” stuff. Or maybe it’s a total bullshit statement. Either way though, we do learn an awful lot about ‘life and shit’ during our college years.

Before getting into the real shit about life and all its lessons, can we just take a moment… where the hell did the year go? It literally flew by. This is the second-last issue of the Express, we only have four weeks left of college before we are on Easter break and head straight into exams, and then begins four blissful (or possibly work-filled) summer months that will fly by just as fast, if not faster, than this college year has. Before we know it, September will arrive and we’ll be kick-starting another college year with Freshers week again, a year older and, hopefully (though probably not a lot) wiser.

We still have a few more weeks though, so I can take a little bit of comfort in the fact that I have not yet completed my entire First Year of college. I have, however, already learned an incredible amount in my relatively short time here. I don’t mean about the subject matter or material on my course, I mean about life in general. And I’m not talking about anything too abstractly deep, I mean about the little things; about ‘how to adult’, how to be independent and do my own thing. I’ve learned so much about my friends, how people come and go, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. This sounds mightily philosophical, and I suppose I can’t argue that it isn’t at all, but I don’t think it is an entirely abstract train of thought to reflect on how much changes or to think about what we learn about life and about ourselves during our time in college.  

1. Living is expensive.


So you’ve moved out of home. You’re on your own for the first time; getting yourself to and from college, making yourself food, doing your own shopping, making your own bed, doing your own laundry… it all sounds very basic and rather easy… but it’s not, is it? Don’t lie. You’ve hit the wall and wondered how the hell people do it, how does one ‘adult’? Don’t worry too much though, we’re all in this together, struggling just a little bit through the things that are supposed to come as second nature, figuring things out as we go. If you run your own car now you’ll know the struggle of ensuring you have enough petrol/diesel to get you through the week, or even just to get you through that one trip to wherever it is you need to go and back again without running out of gas. You’ll also know the struggle of having to make sure you put enough gas money aside each week; you don’t want to wake up Monday morning strapped for cash from your Saturday night out and realise that you never topped up your tank for the week ahead. Also, how the hell can such a small space get so messy so quickly? All the take-out coffee cups and McFlurry tubs do pile up…

2. The Art of the Sesh.


Argh yes, the classic college experience; the going out, the drinking, the sex… College is the time for all the drunken mistakes, the learning your limits, the blackouts, the getting sick, the learning ways to deal with hangovers that could kill, the dying at pre-drinks, the learning where to go and when, what ID to bring and what is best left at home. In college we learn our limits; we learn, through fairly tough trial and error, what we can and cannot drink, and how much we can drink before we cross that line into too-far-gone. For the times that we do find ourselves having crossed that line and suffering the consequences, we learn the little ways we can deal with the day-after-hangover; the Lucozade, the gallons of water, the carby foods.

3. There’s no rush; we have so much time.


Sometimes I find myself panicking about how quickly time is going. I feel like I won’t get all that I want to get done… done. I feel like, before I know it, years will have gone by, and I’ll have failed to carry out all the plans I talked about with friends, the places we said we’d go to, and all of the things we said we’d do… but we quickly learn that life doesn’t work that way; we can’t fast forward to where we want to be. We can’t take and glimpses into the future to check that we are headed in the right direction to get us to where we want to be. All we can do is our little bit and take everything one step at a time. This goes for most things; working towards our dream career and getting to where we want to be. It even applies to friendships and relationships; you won’t always know where you stand with people or where you will stand with them in time. There are no ways of getting guarantees or assurances that things will work out or that friends will always be there, but that is the magic of it, the wonder of our relationships with each other; they fluctuate and change and take the most unexpected turns, sometimes bad and upsetting ones, yes, but other times wonderful and exciting. Just take your time. What is meant for you won’t pass you; the people that are meant to be in your life will stay in some way, so don’t fight things too hard. There is a certain amount of initiative and action needed, but at the same time, let things happen and roll with it.

4. People come and go; you discover who your real friends are.


So some friends from secondary school you kept in touch with, some you stayed really close to, and some you lost contact with completely, and that is totally ok. In college you form the real bonds, the bonds with the people who are meant to be in your life. There is a reason that you lost touch with particular people, and although there may be various different stories behind each situation, the main and most simple explanation is the fact that they just do not have a need to be in your life anymore. People come and go, and it’s those that stay, through all the falling-outs, the fights, the hardships, that matter the most.

5. Mum was right.


Although we may not like to admit it, mum (or ‘mammy’) was right about a lot of things; about how we’d lose some friends and make many others that will perhaps become lifelong friends, about how expensive living is, about how cooking dinners and doing laundry is an absolute trek… If you are fortunate and blessed enough to have a close and positive relationship with your mum, your gran, or any woman you consider to be your guardian, value and heed her advice. It is truly a privilege and a blessing to be able to do so.

6. You’ve got to love (or at least like) what you do.


It is hard to imagine anything more disheartening and downright depressing than sitting through hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, of absolute irrelevant crap that you have not an inkling of genuine interest in. Why do that to yourself? Why put yourself through years of that for the sake of a ‘decent job’? I sincerely hope that every single one of you, whether or not you started off in the course you are currently in or whether you’ve only just started the course you wanted as a mature student after years of debate and hesitation, are doing what you want to do. I hope that you don’t dread the thought of getting up in the morning to come to college. I hope that, even though you may complain and give out about some of the more silly and seemingly irrelevant material, you love what you are doing and look forward to getting to where it will take you.

7. We’re all a little Clueless.


Although it may not seem like it at times, you look around at those around you and think to yourself “how is it that everyone else seems to have their shit together, yet I can’t even go a week without missing at least one lecture?” The reality is that we are all just figuring things out as we go. I remember so vividly being a child and thinking, how do adults just know? How is it that they always seem to know what’s right, what to do and what to say? I would wonder what it’s going to be like, to be all grown up and just know about things, know exactly what to do and what to say, and for it to all just come naturally. We quickly learn that this isn’t the case. We don’t always know what’s right, what to do or what to say; we are all just figuring things out as we go.

And so we’ll keep carrying on as we do, figuring things out as we go, and doing a bit of ‘realising shit’ along the way. Make the most of the journey, the experiences, and the build ups to things, even the little things. Enjoy the ‘getting there’, instead of feeling like you can’t and won’t be content until you do get there. You do not need to have everything in your life just right and perfectly balanced and completely OK to be happy. A little mess along the way is ok, and in most cases inevitable; it keeps us on our toes.