I am sporty, but not especially so. I can act, but I’m never going to be the next Angelina Jolie. I am smart and love economics, but I don’t want my degree to encompass my hobbies as well. I can dance, but not well, and only after a few drinks in Klute. And with my grade 1 recorder, I’m not remotely musical.
In my first year, I wanted to- and did, get involved with everything. I wanted to find my ‘place’ and dabbled in DU and college sport, auditioned for a play (and to my shame and regret, gave up after one rejection) and joined nearly every society at the Freshers fair (yes I still get the emails.)
So fast forward to me now- a grown-up second year that’s yet to discover her talent. But the difference is, I’ve realised I don’t have to. This isn’t St Trinians, I’m not going to be defined by which clubs I join - so why not just take away the pressure to find a niche and just try whatever excites me? The wonderful thing about Hatfield and Durham is the range of opportunities available to us, and there is so much value in experiencing as much of it as I can while I have time before I have full adult responsibilities and a job.
I’m currently the Chair of Hatfield JCR Exec, which while a lot of work, exposes me to, and gets me involved in every aspect of college life. I now run and go to the gym instead of college hockey and DU karate as I found the cold walks to MC too intense and while I enjoyed both, I didn’t love them as much as I did my other commitments. While I initially felt bad for dropping sports I’ve practiced for most of my life, I think a big part of moving out and being your own person at university is the option to re-evaluate the habits you’re in and make changes for the better.
I’ve discovered I love big evenings with my friends and you’ll never see me miss a Wednesday night out at Players. I try to go to as many balls and events as possible (7 booked this term and we’re only two weeks in!). I’ve even joined a few societies purely ‘for the social aspect’ like polo, champagne and hummus. I pick and choose the Durham Union society talks I go to, and recently joined the Lion in Winter Ball Exec.
I will never forget the words ‘Vel Primus Vel cum Primus’ etched around the Hatfield crest and while an inspirational message; I think our real motto should be ‘Work Hard, Play Hard.’ Although we’re one of the most academic universities in the UK, students here still manage to juggle intense sporting commitments (shout out to the 6am college rowing sessions), socials, a busy nightlife scene and a host of extracurricular interests. I’ve never seen any other institution inspire such loyalty in students or create such well-rounded, diverse people. It’s no wonder we’re considered such an employable university.
So, what now? I’m not moving forward with a plan. I’ve loved being on the JCR Exec this year - I think it boosted my self-confidence, gave me the chance to make a tangible difference to college, and brought me closer to certain people - some of whom I now consider my closest friends. However, I think I’ve taken as much as I can from it this year and I’m keen to try something completely new, like lacrosse or cheerleading, next year. I want to finally build up the courage and audition for the college fashion show in my final year, if not apply for a role on the exec. But most of all, I want to keep my options open, move forward with an open mind and seize every opportunity I can, and I urge you to do the same.