Why the sad Avenue Campus cactus is the perfect metaphor for University life

I feel you cactus, I feel you.

Look at this. Just look at it. This is the most depressing thing you’ve ever seen. I know your dog got hit by a car when you were 7, but this is worse. This cactus on an Avenue campus windowsill is the most depressing thing in the world.


Furthermore, this hideously depressing cactus is the perfect metaphor for university life. This cactus is you. This cactus is your mates. This cactus is all of us.

This cactus is those days where you have a 10am lecture. 10am really isn’t that much of an ask, not quite a 9am so not as offensive to the soul, but still early enough to constitute effort. This cactus is that sad moment when your 8:45am alarm goes off and you’re woken from a blissful sleep. This cactus is your broken spirit trudging up Church Lane at 9:47am in minus 2 degree temperatures.

This cactus is you after your seventh consecutive hour in the library. You’ve been reading for so long that you’re no longer sure words exist. Your SUSSED login session has expired nineteen times, and so has your will to live. But here you are, plugging away at those lecture slides , like the battered and dehydrated flower of the desert you are.

This cactus is your soul after a heavy night out. It’s still vaguely recognisable as a soul, but has lost all the life and energy it once possessed. This cactus is you in bed on your ninth consecutive episode of Gossip Girl, blanking out any thoughts involving work, deadlines or your bank balance.


The sad cactus in human form

The sad cactus in human form

How does a cactus even come to be that depressing? It’s barely even a cactus any more, just a few depressed spines. Cactuses (or cacti, who actually knows?) live in deserts. These are some of the most inhospitable places on earth, but do you see all the cactuses there wither and die? No, no you do not. This cactus single handedly proves that university is a less nurturing environment than a desert.

It really wouldn’t take that much effort for someone to walk over and give it a little spray of water. A cactus can literally survive on a few drops of water a day, they really don’t ask for much. In a similar way, it often seems like a couple of hours reading a day would solve a lot of the problems we face at students. But do we do it? No, we do not.

You started uni as a nice, fresh flower. An orchid, a calathea, something bright and exotic. Over the course of first and second year, subjected to a barrage of deadlines, alcohol and stress,  you have somehow become this cactus. This cactus is a perfect metaphor for humanities students’ job prospects, the economy, the housing market, you name it.


A happy cactus and a sad person

A happy cactus and a sad person

Do not despair. Yes, we are all sad, crumpled cactuses, but there is hope. The cactus is kind of beautiful in its defiance. Nobody cares about it, it’s on the verge of death, but it’s still going.

Uni is tough sometimes. Independence, stress, alcohol and an occasional lack of direction make for a potent combination. It’s important to remember that it’s not all bad. You’re the master of your own fate. Sometimes your cactus just needs a little bit of water and sunlight.

Seriously though, someone water that cactus.