This week, LOUISE RIPLEY-DUGGAN tries sleeping, working, and not going out. And, the results are amazing.
This week I decided to try something new. Monday was a low point: The Tab’s swap at Mahal on Sunday had well and truly taken me down, and I had no idea what the fuck was going on. As I sat in the Classics faculty library, trying to read about Homeric characterisation, I suddenly realised that, in the four hours I had spent reading, I hadn’t actually read anything at all. I had just stared blankly at the pages, indulged in countless cigarette breaks, and was becoming increasingly hysterical at my own incompetence.
Having stormed home and subsequently stared at my computer for two hours (one hour and 55 of which was spent Facebook stalking kids I went to primary school with, and wishing I had just decided to have babies like them instead of doing a degree) I decided that enough was enough.
There and then, I promised myself that this week: I would stay in every night, go to bed SOBER before 11pm, get up at 8am, and be at my desk at 9am. I would wrap myself in a duvet of calm concentration; my little room would become a hub of productivity and intellectual inspiration. And so, I set off on my path of clean living. And, I made some interesting discoveries.
The first and most shocking thing that I found was: SLEEP MATTERS. I was utterly astounded when, on Tuesday morning, my alarm going off didn’t make me want to cry bitter tears of self-loathing and regret. In fact, I didn’t even turn it off – after a couple of snooze bashes I was ready and rearing to go – a brand new day awaited me! The novelty of seeing the morning and being able to actually get stuff done in it was extraordinary. The revelation that the few hours before midday can be pain-free defied belief: I could see without squinting, loud noises didn’t make me retch, and I was actually able to eat and drink normal things. This was new and exciting territory.
The next thing to reveal itself was the magic of mealtimes. Three real meals a day (i.e. not Chinese take-away, or endless plates of pasta) had been something reserved for holidays. At home, you see, there is a fridge that is always miraculously stocked with nourishing goods, and there is a family to enjoy those goods with. But, actually being awake in the mornings meant that breakfast and lunch triumphantly re-appropriated their own positions in the day, and were no longer woefully rolled into one miserable hung-over grease-party. My usual hangover rescue remedy (one latte, one diet coke, one orange juice and one bottle of water, and occasionally some Wotsits en route to lectures) was a thing of the past. Just tea, toast and Radio 3 ensured that I was all set to do some translation.
The final, and perhaps most pleasant of surprises, was that I actually like my subject. I used to find Classics interesting, and yet I have spent countless hours staring at pages of indecipherable text thinking: ‘It’s all Greek to me’ (a joke favoured by my parents). The constant annoyance that I felt towards people who actually made me work when all I wanted to do was sleep was becoming overpowering and frankly depressing. Did my supervisors not realise that I have a LIFE to be getting on with? That I have FRIENDS to talk to, TELEVISION to watch and DANCING that HAD to be done? Binning dancing and television, and studying more meant that I remembered why I chose my course; it genuinely is quite interesting. It just took prioritising learning to remind me.
And now, as a result of my angelic week, I am bounding into week five with a relaxed mind and skin which is considerably less grey. My aim was never to become a reclusive Latin-lover; I just wanted to avoid losing the rest of term to a manic cycle of not working, followed by drinking, followed by not working, then more drinking, followed by losing the plot, getting kicked out of university, years of depression and no chance of employment, followed by no money, leading to no food and ultimately leading to death. Not an ideal situation.
So, it is with trepidation that I am, this evening, releasing myself from the fun-ban, and venturing out of my studious haven onto the town and mingling with other youths. If all goes to plan, I hope to find a balance by which I can avoid the death I have meticulously outlined above, and avoid becoming a boring, sanctimonious twat who prefers people who died 2000 years ago to real company. Wish me luck!
Illustration by Abi Lander