I’m usually known as the resident pessimist, with my downbeat predictions typically tending towards reality. But, out of character for me, I firmly believe we need a hearty injection of optimism. There may even be ground to say the future holds some promise!
The last eighteen months have been heavy and painful, inflicting an irreversible toll on all. It’s clear students and the young will come out the worst from the fallout of a year of public health experiments and social and economic crises.
The government has been recommended to lower the student loan repayment threshold, they want to hike National Insurance which will mostly hit the young with no benefit to themselves, and raise taxes, all after shredding our lives and education without apology. Our generation will have to pay for the last year and are lumbered with a government intent on making us suffer.
However, there is reason to be hesitantly optimistic as term begins. Hopefully, this year will be markedly better than 2020/21. We can’t be consumed by doom and gloom, as this can make our lives even worse. I’m not saying we should ignore the aforementioned problems, or let anything else being done to us slide, but we need some positivity.
A recent experience made me realise what I’m looking forward to this year. After a post-Wednesday lie-in, I awoke to a busy day. Going from a Brass exec meeting, to the Bread Oven for their weekly special, before attending a talk by our Societies Officer. I then had a history seminar where we got to discuss our interests and the course. Afterwards, I wandered through the history department looking for a professor but instead had a spontaneous chat with the previous head of department. It was nice to finally talk in person and not just be heads on a screen. I then went to work at The Dirty Duck, essentially my second home now.
The spontaneity and eclecticism of that day, and the last few weeks back at university, showed me why I like university. The feeling of normality and the joy of talking to academics face-to-face was reinvigorating and rekindled the love of my subject. The day reminded me of the business and interestingness of normal life, a tiring but fulfilling one. While some departments are doing better than others, optimism seems appropriate.
we shouldn’t let ourselves be ground down and instead enjoy normality once more
The return of society events and trips, the joy academics show when talking to students again, and the resurrection of spontaneous social and academic interactions all point towards a brighter future.
My time may always be full between The Boar, Brass, multiple other societies, academic rep roles, socialising, and working to pay the master’s costs all on top of the degree itself, but it’s worth it. I hated last year’s isolation and monotony, so I’m gleefully throwing myself into life again.
This is my way of rebuilding my life and keeping hope for the future. There is more to life than living and everything you do accumulates to shape who you are as a person. What you wish to do this year is up to you, it will be very personal and you may want to do everything or nothing. If you feel you are achieving something with your time at university, no matter what it is, this will help you find meaning and direction in life.
There’s so much I’m looking forward to from talking with academic and fellow students, which will enrich all our academic experiences and futures is one, to the normal social interaction with friends and societies. The sooner I never have to use Microsoft Teams again, the better. Playing music, competing, and travelling with Brass and Wind Orchestra will be highlights, as I’m yet to experience a full normal year with them.
Meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends at university, and frequenting The Dirty Duck as patron or employee will be more than a common occurrence. It’s great to see people having fun and enjoying themselves again, helping people have that fun will be something I’ll continue striving for, whether socially or academically.
Whilst there are caveats and fears about the future and what the state will do to us, we shouldn’t let ourselves be ground down and instead enjoy normality once more. Optimism needs a resurrection, even just to keep us going, as this year offers us much academically and socially that the last didn’t. We should take the chance to better ourselves and claw back lost time, in whatever way you see fit.