I spent 24 hours in the library and I will never feel the same

The library became my living nightmare


As Shakespeare said: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness”, and some spend 24 hours in the library. I may or may not be considering legal action for the mental toll this has taken on me. Let me talk you through my experience.

Home sweet Home, Royal Holloway Campus. We all recognise the stunning fa├žade of founders and its beautiful nightly glow. Little did I know, this campus, or more specifically, the library, was soon to become a living nightmare.

10:00 am

I start the day off with sleep deprived optimism. I am listening to Tame Impala’s new album. Life is good.

12:00am

I have eaten my first snack- chocolate rice cakes. I have chosen snacks which I both enjoy and will not leave me feeling sluggish. I am at awe at my careful planning and at how much I am enjoying myself. 9/10 for Tame Impala. I am on top of the world.

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1:00pm

I am joined by my friend who doesn’t quite understand why I am doing this, or why I seem to be enjoying it so much. We print off some ASOS returns and I return to my new home on the first floor.

2:00pm

I have eaten my lunch and my legs are beginning to ache. I take a walk around the bookshelves – side note, I have never actually opened any of the books or seen anyone else open them. I start to wonder if this is a cry for help. I eat my second snack feeling subdued and listen to Beach House.

3:00pm

I have come to the conclusion that there are three types of library outfit; the people who are still convinced Egham is in London, baggy joggers and tight joggers. I have not included myself in any category purely because I’m pretty sure no-one else here is insane enough to plan to sit here for 24 hours.

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5:00pm

I have switched to noise cancelling headphones so I can’t hear my regret. I have eaten my last snack and am beginning to understand why people take drugs recreationally. I am simultaneously full of energy and also could potentially pass out. I listen to Dizzee Rascal and feel nothing.

7:00pm

The person sat behind me is eating a tuna sandwich and the level of rage it is inducing is troubling. I have started to watch study motivation channels out what can only be sadism.

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9:00pm

The cracks are beginning to show. I have listened to Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ four times. A girl accidentally walks into my charger causing my laptop to fall off the desk. It feels like a sign. I spray some more perfume on myself in the hope that it will conceal the smell of fear.

12:00pm

It is the next day. I have officially done half of my prison sentence. I have bought iced coffee hoping that this will chemically induce an emotional rebirth. The caffeine makes me jittery and I start ‘Mindhunter’ season 2 with the intention that serial killers will help me to see the silver lining.

2:00am

A couple are making out on the sofa downstairs. They are both wearing joggers.

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4:00am

I finally understand what Freddie Mercury meant when he asked ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ Somehow I can still smell the tuna sandwich. I walk to the bathroom and wash my face with hand soap and it starts to burn.

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8:00am

The time has almost come. Instead of excitement, I feel a creeping sense of self realisation- what kind of person would do this to themselves? Is that me? Am I me? I play ‘Teenage Dream’ one more time.

10:00am

I pack up my things. I return to my room. I shower. I start to put the pieces of my life together. I realise I have lost something that I may never get back. I eat breakfast with my window open even though it is -1 outside. I breathe it in, it is the air of a free woman.

I spent 24 hours in the library. Did I go insane? Yes. Did I watch a TV programme about serial killers to see the bright side of my situation? Yes. Can I ever listen to Katy Perry again? Probably not. Quite frankly, not a lot was gained from this except the gratitude to COTS for serving iced coffee at such ungodly hours. And fundamentally, isn’t that the Uni experience? Drinking caffeine at 3am while questioning your degree and your future prospects? Above pic is me the next day – if you wonder why I don’t look rougher, you can zoom in to see the black pits of my undereyes.