In a week’s time I’ll know my future. Probably. I mean, unless I really screwed it up and I’m waiting for my unis to make a decision about whether they’ll take me despite missed grades or whatever. But in about seven days I will know where I’ll be spending the next three years. Allow me to freak out for a while.
So obviously I’m stressed, and I’ve been trying a few new techniques to distract myself from this impending doom. Mostly you could say they all come under a broader category of keep busy, but I thought we could look at them on a more individual level.
1) Read books. The kind you can finish in about an hour. Regardless of how many times you’ve read them before.
Oh, it’s midnight and you’re having a nervous breakdown and there’s absolutely no way you’re going to get to sleep any time soon? Grab one of those books off your shelf and start reading. It’ll be done by 1am and you’ll almost certainly be calmer by then. It gives you the illusion of productivity, because you can read a book of an afternoon and you’ve had an hour of distraction but also you can convince Goodreads to stop judging your lack of progress. Which is always a good thing.
I remember last year, post-results day, when I was stressed. I read practically everything Cassandra Clare has written in the space of just over a week, and it was the best unadulterated escapism that I could have had at that moment.
2) Try to watch an entire TV show before you have to give the DVDs back.
An additional step is to feel like you’ve made progress by finishing series one and then realise that series one is the odd one out and all the others are 22 episodes long. Stare at the seven-series boxset you’ve borrowed. Despair ever finishing it. Resume watching four episodes a day although you know it’s hopeless.
3) Go to the zoo.
Small fluffy animals are definitely a way of distracting yourself from impending doom and we went to Drusilla’s Park, a zoo aimed at children and therefore full of small fluffy things. I befriended a goat. And a donkey. The Shetland pony didn’t seem to like me very much, though, possibly because I smelled too much of goat. Also we saw meerkats, which are far smaller than I imagined, and a number of other adorable beasties.
4) Become the kind of eighteen-year-old who goes to London of an evening, comes home on the train-before-the-last-train, and then doesn’t end up going to bed until 1.30am anyway.
My brother came to the zoo with us and offhandedly mentioned that he was going to a folk jam session near where he lives, something he’s been trying to persuade me to come to for months. He then invited me to join him and, for once, I agreed. I took my whistle (if you back out, no one knows you had it with you in the first place, whereas a fiddle case is an obligation even if I wasn’t horrifically out of practice) and, despite being shy at first, managed to join in more and more as the session went on, culminating in a brief whistle solo in the final song before I had to leave to catch a train. Nothing particularly fancy, but I held my own.
I should get points for the fact that nobody even asked me for ID despite most people assuming I’m about fourteen when they meet me. Admittedly, I was only drinking lemonade and my brother did the whole ordering-at-the-bar process, so maybe they figured out I was his baby sister and he was looking after me.
It was great fun. Next time I might take my fiddle.
5) Invite friends to come and watch a TV show with you. Preferable one that you’ve seen before.
I had a bit of an emotional breakdown about my lack of a social life so I invited a bunch of friends to come and watch Jekyll with me next Tuesday. They haven’t seen it, but I have, which always makes things more fun as I don’t have to concentrate quite so hard and I can be more friendly. With any luck it’ll stop me sketching out about results long enough to eat or something.
6) Let them eat cake.
But because I was afraid that nobody likes me I enticed them in with cake (Jekyll & Cake has a ring to it, right?), which I’m probably going to end up making on Monday or Tuesday morning. Chocolate layer cake is sounding good. I haven’t made that in ages.
7) Go out for a meal with your music class the night before results.
Because exams are totally not going to be the topic of conversation for the night… No, seriously. I might announce it as a rule or something, that for the course of the evening nobody is allowed to mention results. With any luck we’ll all stay far away from it and it’ll distract us entirely.
8) Write books about people who don’t have to take exams and therefore don’t have to wait for results and therefore you never have to delve into those emotions while writing.
Maybe they could be about assassins. Or punk rockers. Maybe punk assassins with blue-green highlights and an undercut and really awesome fashion sense. Wait, no, don’t write that. That’s what I’m writing. Write your own book. Sheesh.
But bonus points if you take this excuse to make extensive playlists of the sort of music you think the character might listen to. I’m an indie folk kind of person; Isabel is not. This means I am discovering a wide range of … well, punk rock, partly. Which is an interesting experiment.
9) Make plans to go to a Celtic punk gig because it seems like a good bridge between yourself and your character.
Don’t actually end up going, because you don’t have anyone to go with and it’s up in Central London and goes on until eleven thirty and despite all evidence to the contrary, you’ve actually got a great deal of common sense. Also, if you’re me, you have no money, because a social life isn’t something you ever thought you’d have and it’s sneaked up on you to ransack your wallet and/or your bank account.
So those are my fail-safe ways to keep myself distracted while I wait for my fate to be weighed on Jupiter’s scales or something. What are your best distraction techniques? Let me know in the comments!
ETA 10) Because how could I possibly forget the most stimulating activity of all? Don’t forget the joys of typing up a document detailing all the problems you’ve had with your newly acquired tablet so that it can be taken in for repair…!
Yeah, that happened. Wahey. Goodbye, Pepper. See you on the flip side, when hopefully you, y’know, actually work.