I never thought I would say this, but I think Cameron Diaz may be my new role model, in all her pouty, well-preserved glory. No- not for her innovative recycling of bodily fluids as hair gel in There’s Something About Mary. Why that never caught on is really beyond me, especially in the eco-conscious age we live in. Rather, she has earned my admiration for a scene in one of her most recent films, Bad Teacher. Her character, a drunken mess of a human being (it will come as a surprise to some this is not the aspect of the film I identified with), tells one of her dweebish, adolescent pupils that high school is going to be hell for him and his only real opportunity to start afresh will be university. As another batch of Freshers arrive at St Andrews, it is a refreshingly realistic and perversely hopeful message for many anxious First Years.
Finally, it seems as if we have admission from our culture’s highest authority, Hollywood, that your teenage years are not so glorious. Problems cannot be solved quite as easily as squeezing yourself into a pair of leather trousers and doing whatever the popular boy says, as in Grease, and the school’s darling will not be charmed by you fully unveiling your borderline sociopathic personality, no matter how much plaid you wear, a la The Breakfast Club.
High school has the lowest social mobility rate of any society in the world, whereas university gives you an opportunity to realise your full potential, socially and academically. It is like the New World one hundred years ago, plus there is just about as much chance you will spend your first night there in a gutter.
However, university often brings with it totally new brands of anxiety. Suddenly, it is not how many extracurricular activities you crammed on your personal statement that matters. Rather, it is a totally different kind of experience that determines whether you are accepted; your sexual CV. At my school, to be in a relationship was quite unusual because it seemed to be the incestuous preserve of the upper echelons. For two uncool people to date was something of a car crash-esque oddity, much like the Fat Lady being married to the midget in a freak show of old. You could not take your eyes off of them because you knew they were breaking some unwritten law of high school nature.
When you arrive at university just three short months later, everything seems to have changed. Even your most odious acquaintances seem to have had at least one sweaty dalliance on a Greek holiday island, the entire flora and fauna of which you suspect consists of sexual diseases that have mutated in the perpetual heat. Yes, there is pressure to rub your face and other areas against strangers in the Bop in order to be accepted. Yes, you will start to feel like a walking Morrissey song if you do not. The thing to remember is just do what you want, whatever that might be. If the typical St Andrews mating ritual of being used, abused and then crying about it in the Union whilst waving some free condoms in despair does not appeal, opt out. Having read this article, you will probably be astounded to hear that even I found someone who would put up with me for an extended period of time. I certainly was.
In short, there is hope. Remember that in the coming weeks. Just try not to get Cameron Diaz’s characters mixed up as I may be accused of encouraging an unsanitary hairstyle trend in St Andrews…