The ‘Are They Still Alive?’ One
Whether you’re a halls resident plagued nightly by the 2am orchestral onslaught of returning Medicine and SU drunkards or living in a private house on the Shott where the thump of electro-beats is never far off, there’s no way you’re letting anyone interrupt your slumber. Throughout sixth form you were consistently deprived of sleep; you look back on those days and shudder. You’ll never take the bliss of an alarm-less morning for granted again. You’ll never feel anything but earnest gratitude on those cold, January mornings when you have the privilege of attending your lecture from bed (thanks to Royal Holloway’s adoption of the Open University model). You exploit the minimal university schedule for all it’s worth – midday begins to feel like 7am. When you finally eat at 4pm, your fuel is something easy. You locate a can of own-brand baked beans, popping a slice of your housemate’s bread in the toaster. As you stir the saucepan on the hob, steam hits your eyes. You remember you haven’t washed your face yet. You feel gross. Your housemate enters the kitchen, and you resist the urge to jump in fright. You haven’t spoken to another human being in over 24 hours. Before your housemate finishes asking if you’d like to come to the SU tonight, you scream an over-enthused “Yes! Please”
You feel slightly more human and decide to take a ‘reward for socialising’ power nap before the actual socialising commences.
The ‘How Do They Do It?’ One
You’re a first-class honorary student, and yet you do alarmingly little work. Your immaculate results are viewed as suspiciously miraculous, even by your parents, who ask you if you’re sure it says 82 three times before congratulating you in a tone of disbelief. You’d take it personally, but the truth is you don’t even know how you do it. Within the past 24 hours, you’ve spent almost four on Instagram, two having a free speech argument with your Tory housemate, one feeling guilty about being lazy, one watching ‘How to stop Procrastinating’ TedTalks, and zero writing the two-thousand-word essay due at noon tomorrow.
That friend who slaves away daily on the second floor of the library, Starbucks in hand, virtue in mind, finds your academic prowess particularly difficult to digest. How can it be that they commit themselves to their studies like Marie Kondo to tidying, and yet it’s you, the ‘I forgot to do the reading’ sloth who gets firsts? You, who writes essays in mere hours, who forgets to check your mark until five hours past the release, at which point you smugly revel in the predictable comments, ‘A wonderful essay of first-class distinction. I thoroughly agree that Hobson misreads Lady Macbeth as a Machiavellian! 78.’ Your friend hides a bitter scowl behind “Well done! You’re a genius…I could…I could just…bloody cry!” Their overly enthusiastic response gives them away. You close the tab, say something like “I honestly didn’t think I’d do that well…but like, it’s not like I didn’t work for it. Because I did. Until 11:59 a.m.” You’re unsure whether you’re trying to console or irritate them.
It doesn’t matter either way – according to TopUniversities.com, your degree won’t earn you more than £28,000 a year. You’re probably doomed whether you get a first or a third.
The ‘Never Stopper’ One
Would you choose an SU club night rather than a casual catch-up with a friend over a heavenly Armstrong Gun calzone (Egham’s finest delicacy)? Did you spend a few weeks in Europe this summer, funded by the bank account of Mum & Dad (but told everyone the part-time role in a cafe funded the entirety of the trip)? Have you started claiming that “The SU does nothing for me. I just can’t, like, really get into it now I’ve seen Europe”? In reality, you haven’t missed Flawless or a themed night once since term started. You get FOMO if you miss one night out. You found lockdown particularly repressive and feel it compromised your ‘Never Stopper’ reputation. You were an ardent defender of ‘Young people are MISSING OUT’ – you could have cried for the cause. You probably did.
You thrive on excitement; you were either irritatingly popular in school (life tip: when people claim that “no one in my school was popular”, it’s confirmation that they were popular) or bitterly rejected, and you consider university your do-over. There’s this quality inside of you that gets restless when there’s calm, when there’s no drama, and you subconsciously seek activity and tumult. And trust me, if a tumultuous lifestyle is alluring to you, you’ve 100% got some ‘Never Stopper’ in your make-up. It doesn’t suggest that you sadistically relish drama, or actively pursue impulsivity and mayhem. Being a ‘Never Stopper’ is the constant search for excitement beyond the rigor of academic calendars and scheduled bedtimes. It’s a restlessness that resists the calm of introspection and reflection. It’s screaming ‘Good 4 U’ at the top of your lungs at 2am whilst the ‘Are They Still Alive?’ student is trying to sleep. It’s the mindless buzz the ‘How Do They Do It?’ student fills their time with. There’s a bit of the ‘Never Stopper’ in all of us; it saturates Royal Holloway, it’s Gen-Z to a T and would probably tell me to stop categorising people based on sleep patterns and academia. That’s my queue to rest my case.
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