Sex and the University – Is Halloween only in October?

As the Autumn leaves fall and abandon the trees, stripped bare of their colour and decoration, we wrap up in the skin of animals or cling onto the skin of someone else, to protect ourselves from the chill that the crisp Glasgow air inevitably brings each winter. Whether we have been residing in the library’s box shapes or the reading room’s hollow shell, the past few months of University have been tough on us all as we adjust to the lack of sunlight. Here we are, students caved into the studying world after a summer of adventurous travels: country hopping for some, bed hopping for others.

Now it is November and we are trying to cling onto as much fun and love as we can. What I’ve noticed, however, is that while it is easy for us to give each other the instant attention we desire, no one has the capability to hold onto it; to remain consistent or committed. We are reluctant to be truly open to new people or experiences. Halloween has just passed and as predicted, we transformed ourselves into personas we have aspired to be or what others have requested from us. Girls feel pressured to be the sexy cute kitten or they want to show that they can have a good laugh. We put on multiple faces for Halloween to feel appeased by others and to stand out, but are these costumes only reserved for one night? Maybe everyday we are walking out with a new look, because somebody didn’t like the way we were yesterday or a month ago? We hold onto others’ opinions of ourselves when really the only opinion that we should be listening to is our own.

Men’s opinions have particularly dominated my life, whether it has been a guy I was in a long-term relationship with, a casual fling, or the entirely different kind of opinion, that of my father and brothers. Obviously when you care for someone, you care what they think. However, when their judgement of your actions are constantly making you question your power and lowering your self-esteem, it is important to take a step back. It is also time to break the stigma of having to have someone in your bed at night for the sake of self-respect. This is a challenge – especially when winter comes -as all we seem to want is someone to cling onto, and a hand to hold while we carry that extra-whipped cream, high-in-fat hot chocolate. The nights get longer and let’s face it: we all want a hot shower followed by an even hotter bed. The temperature has dropped and the money is slipping out of our accounts as we prove our self-love over Depop or Asos, and our abandoned diet plans have made us forget that in summer it was perfect to be single. We were able to have no restrictions on which guy/girl (or both) to spend one night with or even a couple of weeks dating. The gossip wouldn’t spread and in the back of our minds we were aware that the end was in sight as we returned to University. So why do we feel the need, after slipping into our University routine, to have just one person when we cannot even harness one face for ourselves?

At the start of term I thought it would be nice to have someone that wasn’t my mum as my favourite caller on my mobile so I agreed to go on a couple of dates with perfectly lovely guys to have them end as I predicted. Truthfully I didn’t want anything more. I may be slightly colder in my bed at night than my best friend across the hall, whose room is an oven without the heating on, but that doesn’t mean I’m instantly ready to mingle. We should know the face that we want to put out there first before having to carry on the baggage of someone else’s personality or personalities. I still can’t decide between two different outfits in the morning, not because the colours don’t co-ordinate but because I don’t know whether it matches my mood, or the version of myself I want to wear today. While we’re wrapping ourselves up in scarves and drinking pints in cosy pubs, we should remember that everyone is feeling ill about the weather and the stresses that accompany us in everyday life. As we’re moving further into the term, beginning our essays and facing an onslaught of exams, we mustn’t forget to be sociable. Regardless of other’s judgement, it is important that we do not hide away. So, now that we have taken our masks off from Halloween and have faced the chill on our bare skin, hopefully we’ll all feel more able to expose our true selves to each other.

Article by Charlotte Dean

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