I think it was Bill Clinton who said: “all the greatest mistakes I’ve made in my life were because I was tired”. I sincerely hope that, on the last day of our last prod week this term, we’re not about to back him up.
Bill and his *ahem* mistakes aside, a lot of people come to university with romanticised preconceptions of what student life might be like. The clubs, the lectures, the guy down the hall who does enough cocaine to save the Venezuelan economy; it’s all part of the adventure, and finding out how true or false your ideas are is a crucial part of the university experience.
But there is nothing more noble in the lore of student chivalry than staying up past the witching hour. Writing an essay, painting the town red, composing an editor’s note; it almost doesn’t matter, the number is what counts. 1:00am, that’s a pass: a low 2:2 at best. 2:30am and things are looking up, your Facebook feed is nodding in approval and your caffeine dependency is nearing respectability. 4am and you’ve made it: crazy-eyed and greasy-haired, you can triumphantly relate your exploits safe in the knowledge that your next two days are going to be terrible. You can say it was 5am. No one will notice.
The very word ‘tired’ has embedded itself into the student psyche to the point where it becomes a Pavlovian impulse. ‘How are you?’ asks a slightly-low-on-conversation-starters friend on a standard Tuesday morning. Instead of ‘fine’, or ‘drowning in turmoil’ (the standard pre-university responses), many people just skip straight to ‘tired’. Odds on it’s right, and anyway, you don’t have the energy to think about it.
But this deference to dormitory deprivation has consequences that reverberate throughout the student experience. The mental health crisis sweeping British universities is no coincidence: there’s something about how students live that damages their well-being, or at least renders them vulnerable. Because if you think about it, being tired is anathema to everything that university stands for. Hundreds of societies, escaping the parental yoke, 17 000 potential friendships: at no stage will enthusiasm and optimism be more rewarded than at uni. Why would you choose to face it after the lifestyle equivalent of five glasses of wine and a valium? You owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself you can be.
So for god’s sake, stop telling that boring dude down the hall that he ought to join your spontaneous, 24-hour all-singing, all-dancing rave crew, he may just have finished editing Nouse and need some damn sleep. And it isn’t just him, is it, because if you’re honest with yourself, you’re bloody tired too. So go to bed, before I manage to out-grump the mum from Malcolm in the Middle. I’m about to do the same.