Back on track eh? Another week has motored by, smoke puffing from the exhaust, leaving us panting for breath. One of the most wonderful luxuries of university life is it’s looseness with time. Time to relax, work, walk, write, gym, eat, clean, go out with friends and indulge or stay in and do the same. Being my second turn on the university merry-go-round, I’m suddenly far more aware of how rare and ideal living this way can be. Our weeks have a structure of lectures and seminars, without really having a ‘structure’ at all. Each day can turn into something different as we are lucky enough not to be locked into a life of long shifts, permanent early starts and limited brain-curdling sleep- our afternoons, days and evenings are mostly much our own to use and fill as we like. As I’ve continued dry Jan into dry February (brave- yes, but I’m leaving wiggle room for the best celebrations and loveliest people), and the absence of nights spent at the pub, out at clubs, or even in having Prosecco with the house ladies has come about, it has had rather an unexpected perk. The result of these nights inevitably melting away from my liberal weekly schedule is an abundance of- wait for it… Time!

The hours (and let’s face it, occasional days) that have previously been spent on weekend and week nights either pre drinking for, getting dressed up for, recovering from or trying to forget- nights out of both small and grand magnitude have vanished, leaving pages open of blank unblemished time I’d never have expected. At first, I was a little puzzled. What on Earth is one supposed to do on a Wednesday evening when the choice has been made not to go out for the Caligula-esque weekly ‘Purple Wednesday’, leaving a long stretch of evening and afternoon before them? The simple answer, I began to realise was- everything. On the nights and days when I felt a little short changed by my challenge and the once desirable goal of dry Jan was beginning to loosen its charms, I realised I could do something truly shocking with my time that was almost unheard of in a student… I could practice self care. I could read. I could work. I could sink into a heavily scented Epsom salt bath for as long as I liked. I could actually keep on top of my correspondence, let them know how I was loving and thinking of them too. I could actually enter a gym. I could do research- not just for my course, but my other interests in life too. Instead of semi- drowning my mind in the blissful fizz and pop of music, noise, gin & tonic and wine, I could instead rest it, fill it, nurture and supply it with the nutrients and care it needs to flourish. I think perhaps the strangest shock you endure when taking a break from the booze is the altered dynamic you have with yourself. No longer is it a catholic based push-pull of indulgence one evening and atonement the next. Instead a sense of calm comes between you and your body. You’ve made a silent pact to take care and work with one another, one enabling the other to be as productive, energised and responsive as they can be, whilst also getting the reward of peace and quiet at the end of a night. Don’t mistake me though, the titivating glamour and opportunities presented by a beautifully boozy night out shall possibly never subside! And I fully intend to indulge in them in the future… However, it seems to me that if going without leads to a better, healthier, happier and more productive version of yourself for the most part- particularly whilst in education- then ‘per angusta ad augusta’.

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