Writer Challenge: Your Life In Their Hands

Our intrepid reporter lets someone else make all her decisions for a week. See how she copes.

decisions Drama Drinking Fez Life reef smoking teenage rebellion

Ok, I’m going to be honest. When I signed up to this, I deliberately picked my most sensible friend to make my decisions.

If I’m going to leave my life in the hands of someone else then I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be anyone who would shamelessly abuse that power and have me streaking across Kings lawn by day three.

I picked the friend whose floor I lie on when I have an essay crisis or boy drama (that’s most days then). I figured this way, I was likely to have the most organised week of my life. Essays would be finished on time and started before midnight, lectures would be attended and I wouldn’t vastly over-estimate the amount of wine I can drink without vomiting. In fact, I may have even delayed the start of this challenge by a day because I didn’t want to a) go to my 9am or b) go to the library to finish an essay. In theory, all should have gone so well.

The premise is simple. I hand over control of my life to my friend for a week. She makes all my decisions (down to consulting her over clothing. I discovered her idea of an acceptable outfit to leave the house in is rather more in line with the general populace than my own lax standards). To facilitate things, we started with a ‘Ten Commandments’ for me to live by, should I be forced to deal with a crisis without her in the nearby vicinity. As expected, these all seemed very sensible. Don’t smoke, don’t take Proplus while drinking a cup of coffee, go to lectures and don’t perve on innocent people: just a few of the excellent rules of the week.

It started well, if with militant enforcement. On our way to Fez, several steps and as many glasses of wine ahead of my new boss I thought the coast was clear to have a cheeky cigarette. This was not to be however, as seconds after lighting up I felt my Marlboro torn from my lips and a livid face inches from my own. “No.” was all she had to say. Feeling rather like a naughty schoolgirl then I pouted and stumbled off ahead. Knowing I was under close scrutiny I was on my best behaviour all night. This actually worked out quite well. I remembered everything and was not continually reminded of my participation in scenes of public humiliation the next day. So far, so scheduled.

The next few days passed with my being astounded at my own levels of obedience. Alarms were set, 9ams struggled through and supervisors astounded as I arrived, bleary eyed but with hastily scribbled essay in hand. Gone were the days of explanatory emails and sheepishly mumbled apologies. Simpler tasks too were completed; I straightened my hair for the first time in 5 years to discover that not only was it surprisingly long but I looked somewhat like Kid Rock when I did so. Having resolved never again to submit my tresses to GHDs then, I felt more organised than I had ever been. This could be a turning point; I could see myself being one of ‘them’. One of ‘those’ students, the ones with timetables and ‘To Do’ lists which actually get done. A new beginning; I could just feel it.

Until we decided to go to formal. And then there was a swap. Then a bop,  and finally The Mahal. Over the course of four days I broke every single one of those commandments. I found myself in the smoking area of Cindies, overdoing the VKs and bitching about people I shouldn’t have (yes that was on the list too). I slept through my 9am. And my 12pm. I felt the familiar hangover haze settle around my shoulders, the old jolt of fear when a notification popped up on Facebook telling me I had been tagged in yet another bedraggled, drunken photo. Yet this only made me more bold. It felt like the teenage rebellion years all over again. At the time, all that involved was a single Reef in a park on the wrong side of town, but I got the same thrill all these years later. As rebellions go, this was about as hardcore as the Reef days, but I didn’t care. I was having a lot of fun.

My friend was not much impressed. She knew I was ignoring all her commandments and right under her nose. Her floor once again came to be a place of shame and self-reflection, but this time tinged with the guilt of having so obviously flouted her rules. The old routine of disorganisation, forgotten meetings and lost supervision sheets fell back into place along with its predictable array of stress, regret and spontaneous decisions. But something didn’t feel quite right. I had experienced life on the other side. For those brief few days I had seen what life was like when you kept to your timetable, when your room was tidy and your ‘To Do’ list neatly ticked. My current ‘To Do’ list comprises of several post-its, scattered around my room amongst piles of clothes, books and miscellaneous items of fancy dress acquired on random nights out. I missed those days of order and Getting Things Done.

Alas, it was not to be. Those wondrous days required a level of self-control and determination I could only aspire to. So back it is to the madness, to perennial lateness and no clear plan from one day to the next. I have left the ‘Ten Commandments’ pinned to my wall however, as an inspiration and a reminder of those few, beautiful days we had together.