How to make people think you’ve got your shit together
Why make it when you can fake it?
As Week 5 comes to a close like a curtain dropping on a particularly disastrous play, now is the time to realise that Cambridge life is essentially that: an exercise in acting as though you know what the fuck is going on.
Let’s face it, getting a degree is basically the same as getting an Oscar. If your shit is so irrevocably untogether that your existence resembles the diarrhoea scene in Bridesmaids, the challenge lies in convincing everybody else that you’re actually a model student. Learn your lines, pick your props, and you can gain a reputation for working hard whilst achieving as little as humanly possible. (Disclaimer: this policy has a poor success rate when it comes to examiners).
Never be seen without a book
Books are a bit like condoms: you should never go out without one (or two, if you’re feeling more ambitious). Ideally one of these should be from the UL to show everyone that you’ve managed to conquer its phallic mystery. The other – unlike a condom – should be well-thumbed and obviously opened before. Leave it at the bottom of your bag for a couple of days to give it that authentic lived-in look, and if necessary throw it to the ground a few times and stamp on it, remembering to grind the pages firmly into the floor with your foot. Carry these books everywhere, even (especially) to pres, to create your academic a-e-s-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Get into character
To prepare for his role as the Joker, Heath Ledger apparently confined himself to his apartment for a month and filled a diary with nefarious thoughts – a routine which basically sounds like an extension of my own all-nighters. To get under the skin of a good student (preferably not literally, although that would be a perfectly valid way of taking out your competition), it’s recommended that you too withdraw from social interaction every once in a while.
Make plans with your friends only to cancel them last minute, citing the ubiquitous and indisputable excuse of “too much work”. Send them a selfie of your tear-strewn face resting atop a pile of books, and then settle down with Netflix for the evening to gain a real appreciation for the type of people who bail on nights out to sit in the library.
Be your own publicity officer*
*(Remember, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Write for the Tab).
This brings me onto my next point. With social media allowing us 24/7 to update everyone else on where we are and what we’re doing, you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it. A photo of the UL on your snapchat story may be the architectural equivalent of an unsolicited dick pic, but it’s also a quick way to top-up your scholarly reputation as you walk past on your way to the Sidgwick buttery. After all, we all know that photos never lie.
Edgar Degas once said that “art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” This is all the permission I need to stand in the doorway to my college library and Instagram a shot of the ceiling as opposed to doing any actual work. Spam your contacts with pictures of desks you got off Google images, captioning them “my home for the next few hours”, then go and do something productive. Like, you know, take a nap.
As the end of term approaches and revision period looms, you better get your act together – literally. While lugging around books all the time can become a pain in the arse, they’re a lot less heavy than your crippling inadequacy.
If you can fool other people into thinking you’ve got your shit together, then maybe you can fool yourself too – and there’s nothing like a false sense of security to see you into exam term.