Recently I’ve heard from lots of past pupils who are getting exam results, moving on to new courses, applying for jobs or approaching other milestones. Several have asked how I feel about my own impending move (one week today!), so here’s an honest response.
I’m excited, but I’m also terrified. And I’m pretty sure they are too.
My own fears are fourfold:
1) Moving house (if you’ve ever done a proper house move, you’ll understand. If you haven’t – don’t buy anything. Ever. You’ll just have to move it one day)
2) Moving to a new country (this is a whole separate horror to moving house: Insurance, shipping, bank accounts, currency transfers, permits, flight details…)
3) Beginning a PhD (is it being a student or starting a new job? What if everyone else uses long words all the time? Will they be helpful when I undoubtedly jam the photocopier?)
4) Leaving behind the people, things and places that I love (and hoping that you aren’t all secretly pleased to be waving me off!)
Unsurprisingly, most 18 year olds aren’t so relaxed about admitting their fears. In the same way that it was crucial not to cry if you got lost on the first day of secondary school, there is pressure to appear nonchalant throughout even the most horrific parts of Freshers Week. You are a grown up! You can look after yourself!
The problem is that becoming a ‘grown up’ is bollocks. If you are a teenager and reckon you’re nearly there, sorry. Adults are actually still unsure, and sometimes downright terrified, when it comes to dealing with their own lives. The next stage is always scary, it’s just that there are more experiences behind you from which to dispense wisdom/annoying sermons for the younger generation. And hopefully, as you get older, more money with which to pay others to deal with the crap bits (in my case, gardening and tax returns).
So, for those of you embarking on new adventures, here’s a bit of tough love to wrap up this post: Remember that the rest of the world won’t care about you until it knows you. It can be a huge effort to find and integrate into new social environments, but people won’t come looking for you. Likewise, don’t assume that one bad encounter means you are a social failure. As someone clever once said, ‘The more I try, the luckier I get.’
But find time to be alone too. Sometimes we put so much energy into participating that we lose sight of ourselves. If you can learn to sit happily alone, you’ll be much better company as part of a crowd.