Thursday, 29 January 2009

Adapting a Student Lifestyle to a Post-Student Lifestyle

One of the most jarring things about going from a student to a graduate for me was the change in lifestyle. The way that I’ve adapted my life to fit around work and a slightly stricter timetable isn’t perfect and I’m sure it could have been done better by someone with more willpower, but it works for the most part.

I am aware that not everyone had the same student experience as me. Some people took a much more serious approach to studying, some people locked themselves in a room eschewing all social contact, and some people threw themselves into every single student society possible leaving no room for pub-based socializing. This probably won’t apply to any of those lifestyles or make sense to you if you are one of those people. Also, this isn’t a way of me saying that I think you’re wrong, just that you've had a different student experience.

My advice to anyone who is trying to break out of a student routine that was similar to mine and into a more professional routine is as follows:

Find a balance. You should know what you can and can’t do, so don’t deny yourself a night out, but just know when is a good time to finish. Staying out all night will undoubtedly catch up with you if you do it too much. Of course, a lack of sleep affects different people in different ways, but it can also be subtle in the way it affects you. You may not realize that you’re not functioning as per usual or that it’s taking you an extra couple of seconds to answer questions that have been put to you.

Hangovers are not your friend. A recent medical report has said that there is no cure for a hangover, but I’m fairly confident that we all have ways of avoiding them that are moderately effective. The best one is of course to not drink, but that’s the boring sort of thing that a parent or a policeman might say, so I understand it's effectiveness and uselessness at the same time. Other methods involve lots of water, pre-emptive painkillers, fatty food, more drinking or staying up so late that the alcohol seamlessly processes itself. I probably wouldn’t recommend the last two for a subsequent release into a working environment.

Find a way of getting up in the morning that works for you. Lying in until the last minute and then having to rush around is no good. You can get away with turning up to a lecture disheveled and reeking of beer, but the slow-witted quick-to-comment colleagues you collect in an office might make mention of it in that irritating faux-sarcastic manner. Time to clean up a little in the mornings is pretty useful and not having to rush around puts you in a better and more mellow mood.

Eat Breakfast. This makes a massive difference. It’s not just subversive marketing by Kellogs that suggests breakfast is important, it really is a life-saver of a meal. Something to wake you up is also good and whereas I’m not going to tout a caffeine addiction, I have to say that I am a different person without that first cup of tea.

Last night reminded me of the way I used to live, as I went out with some friends and probably drank a bit too much. As I said before, I know not everyone has had the same student experience, but mine took me to a lot of pubs and bars at least three times a week. My nights out would also almost always involve very late nights that would occasionally continue once I got home through to four o clock in the morning. A couple of times it even got to the point whereby the sun was starting to come up and I decided that there probably wasn’t much point in sleeping anyway and I have now found out that after about thirty six hours, I involuntarily fall asleep.

This morning also reminded of the way I failed to adapt early on in my working life. I wouldn’t say that I have a hangover, but my brain does feel a little bit like over-cooked rice; all my thoughts are sticking together and several of them are welded to the bottom of my skull. I remember having this sort of feeling when I was still making sales over the phone and I remember it being deeply unpleasant. The morning after a night out is always enough to make you swear off never going again and for me, it has got to the point where I’ll start seriously thinking about how things will be in the morning whilst I’m still drinking. Maybe that’s a sign of adaptation, maybe it’s a sign of growing older and more responsible, I’m not sure.

Everyone is going to have different routines and capabilities. How far your life adapts or needs to adapt is also dependant on how lenient your job is, or even what your job is. I’m approaching this from the standard viewpoint of nine until five hours, but different hours will inevitably invite different lifestyles. It’s best to find what’s right for you and don’t be surprised if you don’t get it right first time. It will take a good few months at least to get used to the change.

Additional Notes:

Apparently, only being able to stay awake for thirty six hours makes me somewhat of a lightweight but it’s not something I necessarily want to work on. A recent adventure to Belgium and back on a six to eight hour coach journey in which one could only take short naps before being interrupted by an inconvenient ferry trip and all the complications surrounding boarding, traveling on and disembarking the said ferry taught me that I could probably stay up much longer if I cheated and took short naps throughout the day. The blog I mentioned a few days ago has an interesting article on Polyphasic sleep patterns that might be worth trying some day.

Ironically enough, I made more sales when I was hung over. My theory on this is that nobody really wants to buy insurance from someone who sounds overly polite and cheery, because they instantly think it’s some kind of fraud. Maybe they’ve read the KPMG profile of a Fraudster that I mentioned the other day, but regardless of the reason, more people seem to buy things from someone that sounds like their spirit has been crushed.

I am clearly bitter that my flat mates can have a lie in after a night like last night. The night was fantastic, as we went to my old university’s comedy night and saw a forgettable but passable female working class comic, whose jokes seemed entirely based around the fact that she was female, working class, or female and working class, we saw Dave Gorman who was unbelievably funny, and an up and coming group called “Pappy’s Fun Club” that was so unexpectedly brilliant that my cheeks still hurt from laughing. I even got a hug from compare Alex Zane who then looked as confused/drunk as I felt.

I was however sensible/boring and came home before going with the others to the student union bar that stayed open late. My main motivation behind that was because the union bar on a Wednesday night is normally full of drunken rugby players, who by eleven are predominantly naked. Nobody needs that.

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