As anybody who has been there and done that before will tell you, making the transition from university student to regular member of society is no easy task. This is because when the two lifestyles are put up against one another they have about as much in common as Dwayne Johnson and Johnny Vegas would have if the two compared body types. As I stood outside my home of 3 years with my roommates participating in the type of emotional goodbye that would make the average heterosexual passer-by point, laugh and shout ‘gay!’ the sad reality dawned on me, it was over.
Before you read any further I feel it worthwhile to inform you that this is not an informative piece. I am not the ‘answer man’; I am certainly not your mum and despite donning the cap and gown to make that final walk of shame over 14 months ago I am still struggling with the concept of moving on from student life. A good metaphor to compare the 3 year binge of university to would be raising an animal such as a Tiger in captivity before releasing it back into the wild after 3 years. Taking the animal out of its natural habitat you feed it cheese burgers, cut its claws, groom its fur and let it sleep in a four poster all while it blissfully drifts through life pondering nothing apart from the way in which the tiger of the opposite sex in the opposite enclosure shakes its backside when it walks. Then when its third birthday rolls around you inexplicably dump it in the middle of the Indian Jungle with nothing but a prayer and watch as it pathetically attempts to stop itself being mauled to death by an aggressive Jungle Rat that it mistook for a chew toy. This is similar to finishing university as until I arrived at my university town I was unaware that life could be so good. Money seemed to routinely appear in my bank account exactly when I needed it, alcohol seemed to bond with my body on an almost cellular level and my closest thing to a job was a stone throw away from my halls and the boss still didn’t get angry with me when I no-showed! A wise man once said that we can’t live in the past. Well I say screw the beardy git because he clearly wasn’t stepping into a new world where rent is £560 a month before bills, nights out and get-together’s with friends are like gold dust and jobs relevant to your new qualification are as easy to find as wild Pikachu’s in Pokémon Yellow.
Sadly even I cannot stop the inevitable and the fact is that once university is all said and done you do go out and get a real job and soon find out that the real world ages you quicker than a strawberry in the Sahara. It also brings with it a number of inconveniences and harsh truths, all of which were never more evident than a few weeks ago. Due to my decision to stay in the town that I conducted my studies, a great deal of my friends are students and one of them was celebrating his birthday at his digs and invited me to the occasion. The alcohol was flowing and I felt loose enough that I could happily approach the prettiest girl in the room but not so loose that I was ready to rip my shirt off, leap on the table and serenade her with a verse of ‘Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ By Prince, I have done this in the past by the way. All was right with the world until one partier suggested graduating to the ‘hard stuff’ which is a rather fitting title for Vodka as it hits me in the head harder than a brick wall. Not wanting to be ‘that guy’ I proudly declared my approval and threw the shots down my neck, my complexion and state of mind changed almost instantly. What was once the equivalent of a leisurely stroll had now grown to the equivalent of the London Marathon. I sat for around 5 minutes with my head in my hands and about as much acknowledgement of my surroundings as a blind man during a game of ‘I Spy’.
I did finish the night but that is not the point. During my university days an evening like this would have been routine but the morning after this night it felt like SlipKnot, minus the talent, were playing a set in my brain. What made it worse was that the students who had arisen around me seemed to be coping a lot better with their predicament than I was. I had never felt more like our Tiger friend mentioned earlier than when I realised that unlike my partners in crime I did not have the luxury of being able to write off this day and there was a list as long as my arm of places to go and people to see on my schedule.
The dark clouds continued to loom as I checked my balance on an ATM and realised that my already dwindling finances had hit a new low and beefing them back up would be difficult as the money ferry had passed me by at the start of January and as a result such extravagant nights of alcoholic indulgence were no longer within my budget. Even on student nights you find that spending a fortune is as easy as reaching in your pocket, pulling out the notes and handing them to the bar lady who started the night as a decent ‘7’ but is by this point slowly climbing the ranks. Such financial hardships are only made more real the first time you receive a letter off your local council, your new worst enemy, informing you that council tax is due and unlike the fluffy characters at the student loan company these guys are not willing to wait until you’re financially stable before they get it.
What makes this predicament even worse is the fact that after university it takes either an absurd amount of time or the type of magic spell that would have Albas Dumbledore scratching his beard and asking ‘what the hell is that!?’ to bring any form of normality to your sleeping pattern. As a result when I finally returned home after a day of trying to convince the outside world that I spent the night with my slippers and an episode of ‘Don’t tell the Bride’ rather than sprawled out on my friends floor I could not settle down to sleep. I do not live a life of leisure by any means but I could spend my days running laps with Usain Bolt followed by sparring sessions with Floyd Mayweather while simultaneously filling out MC Hammer’s tax forms and discussing the economy with David Cameron and still not be able to get to sleep before 2am. Regular sleeping patterns go to the grave with university and getting them back seems about as likely as Natasha Bedingfield winning a musical achievement award.
All things said I am incredibly thankful for my 3 years in university. I met most of the best friends I have and had some of the very best times. However, as is the curse with most good things like holidays, relationships and your favourite recreational drug once you don’t have them anymore it’s very hard to move on. Giving up the university lifestyle is even more difficult when the simple reality dawns on you that the real world is just plain boring. This is where the difficult dilemma of mine and no doubt a lot of other ex-students stems from, the real world just isn’t as much fun and at times it is very tempting to go back to old habits. As it currently stands I and a number of my good friends will likely go down as the weird old guys in the club, still trying to hang with the young crowd and telling everybody how we were much more ‘hard core’ than they are. We get older and they just stay the same my, my…