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How to Remain a Major Player in Your Own Life

As you may have gleaned thus far, being ‘you’, or perhaps simply ‘being’, is tricky to avoid and easy to screw up. The beginning of another university year (or for some, the first – enjoy STAT193, all too many of you) means that the whole business becomes laced with an air of foreboding and the latent danger of self-discovery.

People here offer you things, be they drugs, neoliberal economics, or copies of the Bhagavad Gita. They will tell you things: about spiritual freedom, economic ‘freedom’, or freedom from garlic and onion for only $5 a plate in the Hunter courtyard. If you’re anything like the two of us, you’ll find yourself eating curry in the hub with smudged mascara and a copy of The Economist that you can’t remember buying. Are you in control of your own life? Are you still its major player?

What is it like, being the major player in your own life? Maybe it’s ‘the feeling of sitting down at a pot luck and feeling as though you’ve brought more than food to the table.’ The extra stuff being you. The broad feeling that you’re balancing all your balls in the air (oh, grow up). That this is being co-authored is sort of contradictory—we aren’t even the major players on this page. A more obvious objection is that in taking life advice from this particular pair of unqualified crones, you have forfeited precious time you could have spent ‘working on yourself’. Not so, we say. Not so.

This was originally going to be a column about how to make friends. Figuring that, since we are friends, we qualified as experts. Making the right friends is something which is fairly crucial to you being your own kingpin, anyway, so we managed to get it in here. The people you’re hopefully surrounded by will be there for you while you try to stay on top of everything, rather than taking it away from you or making you feel as though you don’t deserve it.

So often, though, the impetus to befriend is found in an ‘OMG you like that obscure Tasmanian shoegaze album, so do I!’ moment, a moment about a thing that you share.  Seeking out, and relating to, other people only through ‘things’ you can name and ostensibly bond over will get you only so far before you realise you might need more from your friends. A similarity in how you talk about or think about the things, rather than of the things themselves. That feeling right there, recognising something like that, is an example of you not letting people overwhelm you with their THINGS. Being on top of your own shit. Letting what other people do overwhelm you by comparing yourself to them, whether they’re people you know or people who do something you aspire to (or both – the worst) is a fruitless exercise. Case in point: one of us is getting a Master’s degree and the other is spending two grand on an ingrown-toenail operation. Our dynamic remains balanced – figuratively if not literally, as it turns out one’s big toe makes a difference.

As we descend upon the part where a take-home point might go, it becomes necessary to disclose that in writing this, we discovered a boundary of our friendship – that only one of us is concerned with having a take-home point.  Perhaps we should have short-circuited that new Vic course and just written ‘how to answer the Treaty question in your next interview’ after all. Maybe we should take solace that in hanging out with one another, procrastinating loudly, and eventually writing things that sound vaguely polished but are in fact devoid of a real point, we are setting ourselves up perfectly for another year of uni work. The bullshit train leaveth the station!

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