The first day of university, and I happen to get sick. Very, very sick. So sick that it feels like I only have access to about half of my brain. I somehow manage to sniffle my way through my first day, and I can’t figure out how I feel about my classes. They still seem interesting and they still seem manageable, but the fuzziness in my head and the pain in my sinuses overshadows all of that. A few days later, I continue to be sick, but over these last few days I’ve already received Life Lesson #1 from university life: I have no idea how to take care of myself.
I’ll be honest, I lived with the luxury of not having to do a whole lot at home during high school. Yes, I was that kid, whose parents made her lunch every day, and who only did laundry once in her 17 years of existence. I knew I was pampered in this respect, so I decided a while ago that I would live on rez no matter where I ended up going to university, even if it was just half an hour away from my home. I knew that, with the relationship I have with my parents, I wouldn’t really end up taking full responsibility for myself if I lived at home. If entering university is a step to adulthood, then I knew I needed to force myself to live like an adult, too.
That’s all the ideology that I had in mind. Fast-forward to now and I see the truth: I was absolutely right.
Why can’t I get better? I have been sick since Sunday and I have been taking medicines regularly, too. As I said, I lived a pretty pampered life ‘til now. In the morning my parents wouldn’t let me leave the house without having breakfast, they made my lunch and packed a water bottle for school, and in the evening my mom made dinner. My job was to go to school, go to rehearsal for theatre (sometimes until 6 or even 9), come home, do my homework, eat, and try to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before I would get up and do it all over again. Now, my day goes like this: class, break, class, “Hmm, it’s 3 o’clock and I haven’t had anything to eat all day. I should probably get something”, class, back to rez, maybe eat something, homework, sleep. On Tuesday, I realized that not eating probably is one of the reasons I’m not better yet.
Then I woke up at four in the morning, overheating. I had a dream about there being multiple ‘me’s that were all connected, and woke feeling burning pain in each of them. Like six or seven headaches, all occurring independently of yet another that existed in my head. That’s when I realized my second stupid mistake: I went from a bottle of water each day in high school to not having drank any water for four days. That’s really not the best course of action when you’re trying to recover from sickness.
So, Life Lesson #1 from university life is simple: I have no idea how to take care of myself. When you’re far from home, you miss your family most in times like this, when you’re sick. I just thought about how I would constantly complain to my parents about how much pain I was in when I was sick, just because I could. Just because it made the knowledge that I always had someone with me, taking care of me, so much more real. For a moment, I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to go back to being five years old and not caring about life. When you’re on rez, you have to grow up pretty fast. I think the fact that adulthood means you have no choice but to take care of yourself is in some ways scarier than your classes, Profs, and workload. Living on rez is a kind of wake-up call from life. If you want to keep up, you need to slow down and make sure you fulfill the responsibilities that you have, other than those of a student. I don’t know if commuters feel this way, or even the people on rez that go home a lot, but I think each of us that is a long way from home is starting to learn a lot about adjusting to full adulthood. If they haven’t, then they definitely will soon.