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Remember your first day at university? Peering through the window of Mum and Dad’s car with all your worldly goods. Watching your new housemates make their appearances in the kitchen one at a time, tallying off how many guys and girls you would be sharing with. The first night – that first night of independence, freedom and a sign of things to come. Whether you’re coming to the of your first year, or about to conclude your final days at university, you’ll have learnt more than you expected, had your opinions challenged, laughed, cried, danced, looked at some awful photos of yourself the morning after the night before, and, perhaps most importantly, grown up.
But growing up doesn’t have to mean forgetting how to have fun – it means searching to improve yourself, every day, taking an interest in the world around you, seeking to learn, to meet new people, to make an impression and make your world a better place. Read the news, learn to play piano, travel to countries you’ve always wanted to see, practice languages you have learnt. We’re all prone to taking for granted living in a country where a fantastic education is fantastically possible, where we have access to information about history, art, politics, baking, how to tell a funny joke… Use it! Knowledge is at the click of a button, in every page of every library book – you don’t need to have lots of money, you don’t need to have lots of spare time. You need to be interested in the world, and it really is as simple as that.
Maybe your year of uni has been a rough one. Maybe it’s been the best of your life. Make a promise to yourself to do everything in your power to make the next one even better. Whether you’re eagerly facing second year or heading with shaky knees into the real world, promise yourself to keep on learning, and making the most of the privileges that you have at one of the top universities, in one of the countries with most potential.
Growing up doesn’t have to mean a boring job and looking back on your glory days of university with a whimsical sigh. You will work for 48 hours a week, for 46 weeks a year, for 40 years – that’s almost ten solid years at work – so there is no excuse for not doing something you love. If you have a passion or a dream, or even a hobby that you enjoy, why not make it your job? Of course, there are times you will spend in jobs working your way up, or times you might find yourself making the money you need for the next great adventure, but if you’re not doing what you love, you’re doing it wrong.
You may be thinking that this seems quite an impassioned speech, but as this is my final issue as Lifestyle Editor in SCAN, I wanted to leave you with something that drives me personally and the one thing I would like to think I have passed on. In my circle of friends, we have the Deathbed Speech: an old man is lay on his deathbed, aged 96, and he looks back on his life. And he doesn’t look back and remember the times he saved his money instead of going away with his friends. He doesn’t remember the times he got an early night. He doesn’t remember the times he gave up, couldn’t be bothered, settled down. He remembers the time he hitchhiked to Paris on a whim. He remembers spending all his savings travelling up and down the country to keep in touch with his closest friends. He remembers the times he did what he loved, with the people he loves, and learnt, and enjoyed the moment he was in.
It’s at this point we normally all cheer and decide that we can stay out past 2am and go to just one more bar, but it also carries a serious undertone. Make sure when you’re older, you can look back and say you lived every day doing what you wanted, where you wanted, with who you loved the most. That you made no excuses, that you always took a risk for the things that are important to you. Grow old. But never grow up.