Letters from the Dorm: Here's what it's like when you become an adult in the real world


You may face difficulties but enjoy your journey because you deserve to be there – it’s the fruits of all your efforts, not another form of torture

Cyril Ip |

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The University term officially begins this week and I feel more anxious than inspired. Being a university student is unlike any role I have taken on so far – it requires more maturity, more commitment and more independence. From doing my laundry to cooking my food, each trifling “adult” thing has caused me confusion and embarrassment.

While being away from home is not a new or sizeable challenge for me – in the way it was four years ago – the activation of my “adulting” journey is something that I anticipate yet gives me the jitters.

Living in the comfort of my home can make me unmindful of all the real-life, adult problems that I don’t have to deal with. Being the youngest, not-working, still-learning “child” in my family has given me the privilege to escape from things that I find are beyond my responsibility.

Letters from the dorm: Freedom isn't free, it comes with a price

As soon as I realised that adulting is beyond saying that I know things, but doing the things that I say I know, everything becomes more complicated and problematic.

When every one of my friends is excited about fresher’s week, I am thinking about responsibilities, time management, the course, etc. – and I haven’t even had my first lecture.

Adulting also involves being open to meeting new people and making connections, which is yet another weakness of mine. Unlike all my friends, I was not born with the natural skills for good conversations with strangers (or, optimistically, potential life companions), therefore I appear completely insecure in almost any new group of people.

The most important thing you’ll learn at university is how to take care of yourself

Some 300 years ago, philosopher John Locke recognised a basic human behavioural trait – “what worries you, masters you”. My confession is, therefore, not a complaint.

Pinpointing my weaknesses allows me to confront them, and avoid being manipulated by the fear that they induce – the fear of something bad happening; the fear of being unable to handle it; the fear of adulting! These apprehensions won’t do me any good; facing the truth is the better alternative.

Please, if you feel the way that I feel, look back at what you have done to get to this point. We studied tirelessly for examinations; we visited a handful of universities to decide on just one that is one best for us; we asked teachers and the internet for advice; we spent months on that piece of self-description, the personal statement – all of that just to secure a place in our chosen university. The apprehension should end there.

What is coming should be the fruits of all our efforts; adulting is, rightfully so, the desirable result, not another form of torture.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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