Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A guide I wrote for O week at uni, It's pretty silly, but is collected here regardless.

(A brief note on managing your time and money at uni)

Face it kid, you're obsessed. You're an addict. And that's all well and good - noble profession, addiction. However, a new problem arises - you're at uni. You have other demands on your time. All those lessons and tutorials, those workshops and labs, and worse yet - you actually have to do a lot of the work under your own aegis. ZOUNDS. So I guess it becomes a matter of priorities - I mean, obviously you can't put aside your addiction for the sake of your academic career. Let's not waste time with the ridiculous. You have an obsessive tendency - you are damn well going to make time for that.

So what are you options? Well obviously a big part of managing your time is going to be related to cost - I mean, whatever your obsessive interest is, it ought to be something you can afford (or learn to afford). I'm going to make an assumption that your funds aren't limitless - I mean, unless your obsession is horse rearing or your collection of solid gold cars, in which case your problems are beyond the scope of this article to address (also, I hate you). So let's just assume you're working part time, or living off your student allowance (or whatever scraps of cash your parents want to throw your way). Obviously, living costs are important (remember, you need to be alive to indulge your obsession), and when you factor in rent, transport, food etc you're probably not going to have a lot left over. So what do? I mean, if your obsession is something like chewing paper that's probably easy to squeeze into a budget, but if you have a more pedestrian interest like, say, books, films, or video games, even minor expenses can pile up. For this kind of thing I'd suggest buying everything online - there are numerous stores that give great deals on these products. Also don't be afraid to buy second hand. Fairly obvious. Also I'm pretty sure you're going to pirate stuff. Fine. Whatever. You can work on your karma later.

One advantage about uni is that, unless your obsession is something like, say, only eating the eggs of the Komodo dragon, it's very very likely you're going to find other people on campus who share your obsession, allowing you to make very superficial connections with all sorts of people! Put up posters, create a club, just talk loudly about whatever it is you like in class, and eventually you'll probably bump into a like-minded person. This is also useful because they may give you access to your stuff, and open doors for you that you had never considered before, feeding your sick habit. You'll start to feel more like a normal citizen, and less like a freak with an unhealthy attachment. This is an illusion - you are still a freak with an unhealthy attachment, but that's okay, because now your feelings are normalized for you.

A clever person will actually partition their time, sensibly dividing their attention between their work and their hobby. You're probably not that clever. However - and this is something you may not want to hear - there may be long stretches of time where you simply cannot justify your indulgence. This is actually probably beneficial long term - you'll learn to corral that tendency, maybe even make it work for you as an incentive (if I finish this fifth essay I'll finally allow myself 30 minutes to watch the first quarter of the latest David Fincher film! Hooray!). Know your mind, understand its workings, and push yourself into a state of hyper anxiety because you feel guilty even looking at your dog-eared copy of Storm of Swords.

Of course, even if you can balance this work/obsession to a degree where you are actually able to give the appearance of being a functional human being, be aware that this will probably go out the window when/if you end up hooking up with a partner. At that point your only option is to start to let go of your tight grip on the hobby that has kept you warm on those long, lonely nights at sea. Or perhaps convert your significant other. Personally I always preferred the way of the hermit, but I'm a bitter old crank, so if you don't want to end up like that, perhaps work on being a well-rounded human being who actually can deal with having uni, a life, and a secret, focused shame. Or make some other interests. Try train spotting, it's pretty low stress. I guess what I mean is - despite my opening paragraph, your priorities are probably going to shift. And that's okay. There's a little piece of your heart that will be forever obsessed with Pokemon slash fiction - you'll just fill it with other things, too.

This article first appeared in Empire Times magazine

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