By Tom Vasey
This has been a pretty tumultuous year, in all honesty. Even beyond the obvious stuff that’s going on in the wider world, it’s been a long year when it comes to university, too. There’s been plenty to do, lots of people to meet, clubs to get involved in and a nightlife to say you’re totally going to join in on, but keep putting it off (if you’re me, that is). Now, here we are, at year’s end, with stores playing interminable Christmas rubbish on their radios as a method of new-age torture for those of us in retail, and exams are all behind us, even those of us who needed to do the resits.
If you didn’t do as much as you wanted to this year, I think that’s okay. It’s certainly not the end of the world, and there’s more time in the future to get stuff sorted out. Actually, you know, I signed up for the gym last year, but it’s only this year I started going consistently, so the moral of the story is that as long as you get to it when it feels right to you, then it’s okay if you haven’t done everything you planned on this year.
I suppose this is the part where I say goodbye for the year, with the solemn hope that I’ll come back again next year to pretend I know what I’m talking about to students both new and old. The truth is, I’ve played it by ear about as much as everyone else here does, if not more so. Be prepared when you can be, and when you can’t be, improvise with the best knowledge that you have available, right? 90% of the time, it works every time.
Still, a simple goodbye isn’t quite adequate, given the world we’re living in nowadays, especially since I’m also aware there’s a lot of students who’ll be leaving university behind after this year, either because they ran into problems or because they’re graduating. That means that a lot of folks – thousands, in fact – are getting thrust into a big stupid world that’s full of misunderstanding and disdain. This year especially, it’s become increasingly apparent to me that there’s a lot of anger in the world, some of it justified, some of it not. Heck, there are things I’ll lose the plot over too, and I try to stay well away from it. On top of that, though, there’s a lot of things that are needlessly complicated about our world, too. Some people will have postgraduate degrees they’re graduating with at the end of this year, and they still won’t know what they want to do. Because of this, I’d like to talk a little about two of the smartest people I’ve ever known.
One of them is my best friend, a guy called Jeff who lives in the USA. The other is someone I used to date. Both of them graduated with exceptional grades and Chemical Engineering degrees from fine universities, and I couldn’t possibly be prouder of them. The thing is, though, they weren’t sure what they wanted to do with their newfound qualifications, and they went in very different directions. One of them ended up moving countries, the other ended up training on a nuclear reactor. There’s a lot of possibilities in the world, and while there’s no question more upsetting to a graduate than “oh, what are you going to do next? ” the truth is that you’ve got the whole world at your feet, and a lot of adventures ahead of you. It’s okay to not know what to do next because you’ve given yourself the opportunities you need to make sure that you can handle it all, come what may.
The next thing to remember, and this is important, is that no matter what it’s important to be kind to one another. I am so furious about the world right now and how many perfectly capable adults have come to forget that. Look, I’m not going to sugar-coat anything – the world is a place where there is evil, there is misunderstanding, and there are people who will exploit your empathy or match it with hatred. I’ve seen a lot of this in Europe, the UK, and especially in the US lately. There are a lot of media sources that absolutely love documenting this stuff as well, or presenting violent rioting subversives as heroes, but at end of the day it’s all perpetuating a cycle of hate that won’t bring life or happiness, only pain and suffering. Don’t punch people, don’t label people with broad blanket statements, and don’t hate anyone for who they are, where they were born or anything of the sort. We should all be above this, and work to improve ourselves as a species.
After all, with the exception of some group project teams at uni, we tend to work pretty well in unison as a species, and we’re going to change the world in little or big ways. Whether we have immense power or nothing to work with, we’re all going to bring about a little change, and that’s super important.
The moral is that we must be kind to our fellow humans. Do not let your politics, your beliefs or anything of the sort get in the way of that. As I said a couple of months ago, make kindness the order of the day, and you will be contributing towards the betterment of our world. If even one or two people remember that in the coming years, I will be looking forward to the future of our planet far more than I am now.
I hope to see all of you next year, and remember to be kind to yourselves, too. Keep pushing yourself to do better, but no matter what the final grades look like at exam, remember that it’ll all be okay in the end.
Thanks guys, and take care, okay? Have a lovely holiday no matter where you’re going and where you are.