Sex and the University: Spring Forward

As the days grow longer and the sun has awoken after a long winter, we all are expected to crawl out of our slump and begin our days early and with a determination to complete our assignments. Our focus is on – or should be – on our work, but a getting away from everyone and everything is necessary during this stressful time. While travelling around I got to reunite with some of my best friends, people who I used to be inseparable with before work and the world around us got in the way, before I focused my attention on succeeding and being the ‘best version’ I could be. Not only the best version I saw for myself, but also the one attractive in the world and its eyes and wishes from me.

As my eyes wander around the level three café in the library I can’t help but notice everyone else’s eyes darting around the noisy hub. Perhaps they are searching to meet a friend’s gaze, or drifting their heads away from an uncomfortable conversation. However, they couldn’t all be feeling that way, surely? I felt that the café filled with darting eyes would inevitably catch someone’s attention, or rather that they would catch someone observing them. Not necessarily everyone, but most I find go out and land themselves in situations simply on the basis of doing what would attract others, and, say, in those situations, what might be perceived as attractive. We want to belong in a group and be appreciated by others, for not only our looks but also our opinions. Why is it we are so focused on appeasing others and being categorically attractive? We may not have followed the Mizz, Shout or Cosmo magazines religiously, but in some way or another we have filed up our own lists on how to make our behaviour attractive. It’s no longer knowledge to acquire – it’s running through our minds subconsciously.

Is this why so many of us find it easy to run back to old flames, or ashes of relationships past? Do they resurrect old feelings of nostalgia within us, or could remind ourselves that we were good enough to someone at some time? However, after returning back to someone who might not have shown any desire to have you as anything more than yet another sexual experience once or thrice why is it that we can find it so easy to curl into bed with them? We run back for the pleasure they gave us and forget how they made us feel when we weren’t wanted. For we all look at sex as pleasure – but running back to old sex, does that really cause any pleasure within us? It could make us feel like we’ve still ‘got it’, or it could be a power play situation with the person. By hopping backwards, it asks us to come face to face with the time spent with them, and can help us order ourselves to spring forward, no longer letting the control of another rule you and your moves within everyday life.

While I sat at Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest mentioned the fact the Ashes were made from last year’s palm leaves. He said that we don’t need to forget the past or necessarily worry about what has happened, but appreciate its presence and to grow from it. To dwell on any past relationship or sexual experience will not harness any strength within us to jump forward into a new era. Growth and process are what we need to focus on and not an opinion of you your ex word-vomited to you over a colossal argument.

As we might find ourselves falling back into bed with people who never really gave us the feeling of being utterly wanted, it’s not only our own self-growth that needs to occur, but theirs as well. We fall behind on our tracks to remind or perhaps re-shake what we already knew was true within us, or to satisfy the itch of attraction. Whenever I speak to my male friends I often find myself muted in conversation due to the shear weight of worry and frustration at their love life – not because I might have great advice, but because they’re the ones needing to vent. Not women. So perhaps this feeling of doing what is utterly attractive to the opposite sex and the world around us isn’t just a problem for women, it could be a greater problem for men. They need listeners and attention just like everyone else, and yet so many of us put the blame on them for making us feel inadequate and undesirable. At the end of the day, we are all just human.

Not only do we find ourselves tiredly worrying about being attractive, but we almost fight with who we really are just to be part of a group. Levels of pretence summit during the university calendar as we alter ourselves to fit into a nest that it might not even be so comfortable to be a part of. So why is it that we find ourselves tied down again and again? Is it due to the way we are all obsessed with feeling wanted by someone, or is that we ourselves don’t feel enough for some people? And while some people are more than capable being immune to feeling undesired by people, why is it others strive to seek approval and adoration from everyone they come across? They spread compliments like butter and yet inside they’re the ones wanting the attention. So really if we perceive ourselves as being immune to people’s disregarded attitude towards us, does that mean we really don’t care deep down? We are all immune to different things, but when someone doesn’t want you – for reasons unknown – it is hard to hide behind the façade of a strong immune system.

So while the sun is either shining across a pastel blue sky or hiding behind the piercing white sheet of cloud outside, the approach of Easter and a new beginning is upon us all. We should spring out of old habits and familiar beds, moving away from the ashes and finally growing within ourselves – hopefully learning that worrying about others shouldn’t be the water to our soil.


Written by: Charlotte Dean.


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