From The Magazine

Published on November 21st, 2013

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Crinkled bookmarks, dry pages, and another coffee please

By Sarah Edwards

“Uni will consume your life. You won’t have time for any other plans! Don’t try and do too much!”

If only I had listened to such expert advice! When I first heard these words, I had already adopted the common attitude of ‘Nah, that won’t happen to me! I’m invincible! Honestly, I’m naturally organised. I’ll keep on top of it!’

Not a problem, right? Wrong. WHAT A JOKE. I was so naive and daft and ridiculous! I had no idea what I was beginning and, to be honest, I miss that feeling. I miss the feeling I had when I first entered my university campus, attended my first lectures (I know, I ACTUALLY attended once upon a time), kept up with my readings, handed in my first assignments, and received my first results. Everything was new and fresh and exciting and A LIE. Uni lied to me! It swept me up and placed me under its soft, delicate wing. It deluded me with ideas that the next 5 years would be a breeze, that uni would be okay, that I COULD keep on top of everything, and that I COULD have a social life! Oh, how misled I was. How misled we ALL were! Deceived by the very thing we had just put all of our trust in.

Gone are the days when I had free time. I’m no longer sure what this phrase even means! All I do now is read, read, and read! Coffee is my best friend and if one of my many battered and bruised bookmarks falls out of a beloved book, everything is over. Okay, so perhaps I am slightly over-exaggerating, but if you are a fellow university student, maybe you understand? It really does feel like the world is going to blow up in your face some days and some days it actually does! But, those days are stories for another time.

Back to my initial thought…What if I HAD actually listened to the advice imposed upon me? Well, I would not have done half of the things I have done so far and I probably wouldn’t have had half the fun! If I had entered uni fearful and conserved and worried about having no time, sleep, or social life, where would that have got me? Yep, that’s correct. Nowhere. Although, my uni readings would probably be up to date at least. Again, probably an over-exaggeration, but you get my point, right? If we’re sheltered from life’s experiences through fear, we miss out!

One of the most significant things I have learnt so far (except that politics is awesome and literature rocks my world), is that being young should NEVER be taken for granted! Has anybody seen 17 Again? All of the Zac Efron fans are nodding vigorously, don’t worry! I’m undoubtedly with you! But, for those of you who don’t know, the film is really just about this guy who goes back in time to his 17-year-old self. The journey he takes is interesting. He initially thinks that he has been sent back to pursue his basketball career; to get another shot at his ultimate dream in life, but instead he finds himself becoming best friends with his son, standing up to his daughter’s boyfriend (who is a major bully), reconnecting with his wife (in a sort of bizarre way), and learning that family and the people we love are far more important than the many other things we worry about or constantly ponder over during our lives. In addition, and this is the point I am getting to, he realises how much he loved being young and at one stage, he exclaims how much boundless energy he has and how fit he is again! He has a real excitement for life that he didn’t have in his 40s and he regrets not having made more of it when he had the chance!

That was an awfully long explanation of something really quite short and not extremely important, but do you see my point? It’s just one of the many examples of how our youth should never be taken for granted. We should be making the most of this energy that we have for life and sun and sand and friends and ice-cream. It won’t last forever. That’s a fact. Not all of us can hit 40 and turn the clocks back to live properly the things we missed or took for granted. We have to do it now. Regardless of the numerous uni, or non-uni books we grasp so tightly, as if the stronger our grip the sooner they will be read.

In terms of the fear factor I had when entering uni, I would like to say this: Whenever I feel this sort of fear that I can see will hold me back and stop me from doing the things I know will be enjoyable and worth-while, I like to remind myself of a few classic quotes from my favourite films. My first example is Strictly Ballroom. It goes like this:

“A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”

Pretty simple right? And so very effective. Another one, this time from Anne of Green Gables:

“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it.”

Again, so relevant. Are you following?

And finally, something that has been on my mind a lot lately, usually when I find myself rushing everywhere, running late with no time for anything except the current task at hand. I’m not sure where I first heard it, but it often comes up like a friendly tap on the shoulder when I need it most. It’s something similar to this:

“There is always time to stop and smell the roses.”

It really is very true. I have a suspicion that people often don’t think about this anymore, but it is incredibly important! It’s not literally saying if you don’t smell the roses now, before you know it there will be no roses left on earth! Or, smell as much as you can today in case you lose your sense of smell tomorrow! What it’s really saying is: if we don’t make the effort to live in the moment or stop and enjoy the stage of life we are in, whether young or old, before we know it, the moment will be lost. It will only be a memory. And if that moment wasn’t embraced to the most mammoth amount; if wasn’t held onto as tightly as your grip could muster, you will know that you missed something. You may not know it now, but in 20, 30, or 40 years time, you will. And I know what you’re thinking; that this lesson is so often taught to us: “Live in the moment, live each day like it’s your last!”

Therefore, I am terribly sorry to drill it into you again, but it is vital and important and WISE. And lets face it, we all want a bit of Dumbledore or Gandalf or Yoda in our lives (whichever one resonates with you most), so embrace the wisdom! Don’t be afraid, don’t hold yourself back, don’t shelter yourself, and DON’T FEAR having no time! Read, drink coffee, and use the time you have wisely. There is ALWAYS time to smell the roses. So do it.

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