"You’ve changed your mind on change..."Sorcha Keenan

You’ve changed, Sorch.

I know that thought will terrify you, and I know that you don’t think this change is necessary or desirable. I know that right now people are telling you that they ‘hope you don’t change’, as they congratulate you upon receiving a place at Cambridge. You’re convinced you won’t change, and you’re convinced you don’t need to.

But please remember, they’re forgetting to finish their sentences. What they mean to say is: ‘don’t change your accent’, ‘don’t change your love for Liverpool’, ‘don’t change whom you vote for…’. And don’t worry, your love for your home city will remain stronger than ever. You will probably talk a bit too much about Liverpool, as you educate your friends about the city, but they will love it deep down because of their love for you. You will talk on the radio about your love for sport; you will celebrate your team’s success in a room packed full of your friends as Liverpool lift the Champions’ League trophy; you will even explain to one friend the scoring system in football…

You’ve changed friends. This doesn’t mean leaving behind your school friends. It just means that you are going to meet so many wonderful people. You will congregate in staircase kitchens as nervous freshers, introducing yourselves with the simple mantra of ‘name, subject, hometown’. At first, you will be slightly overwhelmed by their confidence and feel out of place. But these people will eventually become the biggest part of your life. They will love you in ways that you have never been loved before and they will constantly make you laugh. You will continue making friends all the way up until third year, and they will inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

You’ve changed the way you use words. It will confuse you at first that people use ‘peak’ to mean something negative; you will hate that ‘fair’ can be used in response to everything. You will swear to never adopt these counterintuitive phrases. And then, overnight, they will enter into your lexicon, and you will wonder how you ever questioned their almost paradoxical status.

You’ve changed relationship status. I know this will terrify you, but it will be okay. You will realise that you love your own company and that it will take someone pretty special to understand this. You’ve changed your taste in boys, and I wish I could say that was a good thing, but again, maybe ask your future university friends about that one.

You’ve changed style. I don’t hate what you currently wear, but you will definitely wear less makeup, and you will forget how to do winged eyeliner. You will learn about the joys of depop and the dangers of fast fashion, so you should probably cancel that Pretty Little Thing yearly subscription while you can. You will fish through your friends’ wardrobes while you get ready for nights out, and the boys will knock on your door wondering why you haven’t appeared at pres you planned to start an hour and a half ago. You will remember the outfits you wore for your first formal hall, your first May Ball, your first Garden Party.

“You’ve changed, or at least tried to change, your attitude towards failure.”

You’ve changed, or at least tried to change, your attitude towards failure. Future you still loves perfection (sorry, working on it), but you will fail many times at Cambridge. You will fail at work; you will fail at relationships; you will fail at handling alcohol. You will fail so many times that you will think you can’t go on, but those wonderful friends will get you through it. I promise that these failures will teach you so much.

You’ve changed your views on hot drinks. I know right now you are pretty sure you only like water and prosecco. But trust me, americanos will end up defining your University experience. You will spend hours debriefing about nights out over coffee at the Locker café. You will strengthen friendships and develop new ones all over a cup of coffee, as these people quickly become the biggest part of your life. You will also realise that taking yourself for coffee and treating yourself is one of the most empowering, enjoyable things that you can do.

You’ve changed degree! Again, I know that this too will scare you. You will enjoy Spanish, but those future university friends will make you fall in love with Cambridge so much so that you will decide against your year abroad. Even if the independence that you develop at University will make you more than capable!

You’ve changed plans, and then changed them again. You will still love to plan and, yes, people will find this annoying. But you will do things spontaneously and enjoy it.

You’ve changed views and opinions. You’ve changed your definitions of feminism and racism. You will learn about intersectionality and understand that racism is structural. You will enter rooms full of the most intelligent people. You will be scared at first, but you will learn to love talking to strangers. You will have conversations that will make you angry, but you will have conversations that leave you feeling happy and fulfilled.

You’ve changed graduation plans. I really want you to know that, during the course of a week in Lent term of third year, it will feel like the world is spiralling out of control. The world will change overnight, stealing away C-Sunday, 21st birthday plans, May week and graduation. And I know that you have always thought that you aren’t strong enough to deal with a historic situation (spoiler alert, this time it’s a pandemic). But you will get through this because you have changed. University will make you stronger and it will be the best time of your life.

You’ve changed your mind on change.


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So yes, you’ve changed. But, please do not fear these words, as I think we both know that deep down you need this.

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