Five things this term taught me

1) I am not invincible, none of us are.

From Covid to cabin fever, the physical and mental strength of each and every one of us has been challenged this term. Sometimes we’ve broken. With bad news bashing ceaselessly against our best intentions like brutal waves crashing into cliffs, sometimes cracks appear. When they do, murky waters swirl in through the gaps, threatening to drown our resolute optimism. Day 5 of quarantine, languishing, sickly and infected, fatigued by twelve hours sleep and the return my sense of smell nowhere in sight, yes, I felt low. In fact, a collective cry is no longer uncommon in my household. And I’m not even sure that hysteria shared is hysteria halved. At times we’ve definitely encouraged eachother’s existential gloom over a glass of wine (or three). But there’s a comforting camaraderie in it. A glorified wallow can be therapeutic, collective vulnerability brings you closer. And funks are always finite.

2) The upmost importance of takeaway coffee.

Fresh air, novel company and caffeine. Never has a more effective soul-cleansing combination been devised. When threatened by crippling claustrophobia, the best cure is to consciously burst the bubble that your life is largely conducted within. The chance for amicable small talk with the smiley owner of Riverview; a cheery chat with Mark the greengrocer in Market square; or a walk along the crispy riverside paths for a scarf-laden catch up with a friend you really should see more of. At a time where the borders of justified activity are bound tight, a chance to escape the confines of your own world is more than welcome.

3) Close friends are the most important ones.

There are certain people who, after this term, I know will always be a part of my life. Those who are there, day in, day out. Descending the stairs early afternoon, cigarette in one hand, black coffee in the other, a certain someone who listens to my woes, while serving as a reminder that brilliance does not require one to be a powerhouse of productivity before midday. The comforting calls of another when they hear me coming and going, a reminder both that there is always an opportunity for a chocolate fuelled chat, and of how unnervingly thin our walls are. A third, prone to bursting emphatically in, unannounced, spewing gorgeously inconsequential anecdotes and frequently leaving me belly aching from giggles. No matter how bad things get, these girls will always be there. And that is a very lovely thing indeed.

4) Not being hungover does not make you more productive.

The phrase ‘tasks fit to fill the time you give them’ has never rung truer. This term we have been stripped of all default forms of procrastination. No afternoon pints at the Swan; no balls that require 48 hours to prepare for and recover from; no café brunches that lingers into the early hours of the afternoon. Comparatively, we have had eons of empty time. Yet, as the end of term looms, so too does the treacherous mountain of deadlines I am yet to climb. Even corona has not stifled the extraordinary and unique ability of a student to be constantly busy while achieving absolutely nothing whatsoever.

5) There are always silver linings.

Many memories would not have been made this term had we not been required to make our own fun. The clattering and splattering as nine hangovers stampede into icy seas, one late October afternoon; ten piled round a table for four as steaming plates are passed round like parcels of steaming goodness; boisterous sitting room boogies with floors almost sticky enough to pass for Players. While I didn’t expect my university years to look like this, to say we’ve made the best of it would be an understatement. There are always silver linings if you look for them, the weird can truly be wonderful.

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