For most of us university is our first taste of (mostly-) independent life. Whilst the work is difficult, often-times it’s not the biggest challenge. As the strange limbo between “real” adulthood and legal adulthood, university is not only where we get our degrees, but also where we establish a bit more clearly who we are and who we want to be. All the while, fitting in a social and academic life between trips to Tesco, paying rent and washing up!
For the first time, there’s no form tutor to remind you of upcoming assessments, Mum’s not there to remind you to change your sheets (amongst all the other things that mums take care of) and, well – whatever it may be – if you don’t do it, suddenly it doesn’t get done!
This is a list of a few social, practical, and organisational tips to help you navigate this limbo between adulthood-under-your-parents-roof, to fully fledged rent-paying, laundry-doing adulthood.
This list isn’t extensive; indeed, being an “Adult” carries a lot more weight than paying bills and doing washing. But, likewise, everything on this list is not a crucial component to what it means to be an “adult” (no doubt, that definition is quite different to all of us!). These are just a few things that have helped me personally find my place as a (mostly-) independent human being.
- Screen Time
To me adulthood is somewhat synonymous with accountability. And taking responsibility for and care of yourself means protecting your time i.e. not spending 9 hours a day on Twitter.
In a world where there is no lack of noise, it’s important to balance staying connected and enjoying social media with avoiding rabbit holes or getting stuck in echo chambers. The amount of media we consume today is unnatural and we mustn’t forget: social media is made to be addictive. It’s a (very) money-making business and ultimately, we are the product.
So, in order to start investing your time into the things that matter to you, it’s time to start drawing some boundaries. Firstly, face the reality: take a look at your average weekly screen time. How many hours did you spend on social media yesterday? Pretty scary, right? And secondly, start thinking about how you can make a change.
Make use of feed blockers, put time limits on apps and delete those that you can! Cut down slowly over time – even if it’s just 10 minutes less everyday –the time you’ll get back will start to really make a difference.
- Be Aware of your Online Presence
Whilst I’m sure that everyone reading this blog has an inoffensive online presence, I’m also sure that our potential future employers don’t need to know about our last holiday and even less so about our latest night out. The private button is a quick and easy fix to keep your social media for you and your friends only.
Don’t forget to have a look back at old social media accounts too and either delete them or make them private – whilst it may be harmless, no-one needs to dig up your 2012 Tumblr account.
- Create a LinkedIn Profile
If a quick google search of your name brings up a glowing LinkedIn profile instead of an old Pinterest account, all the better! Whether or not you know what you want to do when you graduate, now is the perfect time to create a LinkedIn profile. Warwick is full of ambitious young people and it’s now that you should start to build your network.
Whilst it’s a great thing to do, you really don’t have to be dropping career blog posts every week – LinkedIn is just a great place to keep all your contacts, friends and colleagues as you never know where life-after-uni might take you.
It’s okay to say no.
As we get older, not only do we have many more responsibilities, but also in many cases, such as at university, we’re presented with many more opportunities – whether they’re social, academic or work-related. And this is where we have to learn to start using the word “No”.
Taking on too much often either leads to spreading yourself too thinly or driving yourself to burn out. In a world where you often say “No”, your “Yes’s” mean a lot more – you’re able to deliver on your commitments and be present when you show up.
To me adulthood, is about leaving the FOMO years and people-pleasing years behind. It’s the time to start understanding what you really enjoy and who you really enjoy being around and investing your time in exactly those occasions.
- Take the Initiative
To me, being an adult is about being less me-centric. So, sometimes – whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert – you should be taking the responsibility to check in on your friends or organise the next meet up. There should be a good balance between how much you invite and how much you are invited. And whilst, of course, you shouldn’t let the scales swing too far the other way – if you want someone in your life, you should be taking the initiative to include them in it.
Likewise, this applies to family. Take the time to call your Mum, Grandmother or sister, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.
Carrying on from being less me-centric: make sure you’re not calling your friends or family just when something goes wrong or right in your life. I’m sure we’ve all known people who only ever pick up the phone to either rant or gloat, and it’s unlikely friendships like that will stand the test of time. Checking in and remembering important days for your friends is a necessary part of worthwhile and long-term relationships.
Sometimes people make mistakes and other times people can really just be mean – especially when we are all still so young. But holding a grudge never does anyone any good.
Whilst there’s no reason to open your arms to someone who has upset you or let you down, moving on and being civil is, in most cases, the grown-up move to make. You never know where life might take you and whether you may share seminars together or not today, your future self will thank you for having walked away.