I’m writing this on my birthday. A milestone well into the future for most of you. Another revolution around the sun is a time to reflect so indulge me as I do exactly that. This editorial, the first of many over the years to come is past the deadline to be edited and placed on the page where you have found it now. I thought it best to just be honest about it because it happens to the best of us sometimes, though I try not to make a habit of it. And I’m sure, at some point, it will happen to you. Take a breath and get back into it, tenacity is a habit and when push comes to shove you are the one responsible for the shape your life takes from here.
Some of you reading this will have read many of these over your time here at this university. Some of you will be reading something like this for the first time, embarking on the first of what will hopefully be a number of fruitful years. They are strange and beautiful years. Years that will never come again, the realisation of which will not fully land upon your head until they are well behind you. Make the most of them. Whatever that means to you. Enjoy the shit out of them because – take my word for it – the real world is not much like this at all.
These years are the ones where you still have potential. With every passing year the potential becomes the actual and one day, like me, you’ll be looking back at what you became instead of what you could have been. Your time is the most important of your non-renewable resources; it is a terrible thing to squander. Your mind is sharper now than it will ever be. I have to work harder to grasp things that a younger me would have understood just by being in the room. Be in the room. Make the most of that razor’s edge while you have it or, heaven forbid, you’ll have to work for it.
One way or another, the world will make you work. You get to decide what that will look like for you. Take that opportunity with both hands. If you don’t know what you want, study broadly. If you really don’t know what you want, study for the money. It won’t make you happy, but it can give you a kind of freedom that you may not attain without it. If you really, really don’t know what you want, then leave. Go work for a while and you’ll learn pretty quickly what you don’t want to do. Then, like me, you can come back later when you know better. Just know it will be different next time around.
Some people say that the friendships you make here are the ones you will take with you for life. I think that’s mostly bullshit but I know for sure that you should choose those friends even more wisely than you choose your papers. Your future will be determined by those choices perhaps more than the piece of paper they’ll hand you at graduation. Decide poorly and you may not make it that far. I learned that the hard way.
Party, drink, socialise, explore, (re)invent yourself but do the work you’ve come here to do. Or don’t. What do I know anyway? For what will be the first time for many of you, it is truly all up to you now. Whatever you decide, make the most of it.