8 Lessons In 8 Semesters: Lesson 3

8 Lessons In 8 Semesters

Diarmuid Brady


January 29, 2024

Don’t chase other people’s idea of fun.

💡  What is your idea of fun?
       Do you believe spending time having fun is important?
       How much time do you spend having fun?

I kicked off my second year with one goal in mind—to have as much fun as I possibly could. Reflecting on my first year, it dawned on me that I’d dedicated an awful lot of time to studying. I worried that my future self might regret not having indulged in the “full college experience.” At the time, I believed university fun mainly revolved around drinking and partying. So, naturally, I figured if I wanted to have more fun, I should drink and party more while leaving hard stuff like studying, working out, and meal prep to the waist side. And that’s exactly what I did. I found myself attending regular house parties and drinking.

Over time, I started feeling a sense of freedom, thinking I was finally “letting loose” and truly getting “the full college experience.” But then came a turning point. One night, running late for a party, I decided to “catch up”. So, I downed a shoulder of vodka and pure orange and pineapple mi-wadi. Due to a system memory corruption error, I’m unable to give specific details of what occurred after, nor would I want to. The main thing is the following day was the worst I had ever felt physically. I didn’t attend lectures and just lay in bed feeling miserable and sorry for myself.

Following that episode, I reflected on the past few weeks and had a real wake-up call. My new lifestyle left me feeling more drained, anxious, irritable, unfocused, and scattered than ever before. My workouts stagnated, and my academic work suffered. So, I asked myself:

Diarmuid, I don’t like this. I feel like shit. Why am I doing it?

Because this is fun. It might be difficult, but this is fun, right?

No. No, it was not. I was chasing what I thought others found fun, trying to fit into their idea of a good time. But truth be told, this wasn’t fun for me. What I truly enjoyed was getting up early (7 am), diving into study and programming, going to the gym or rock climbing, cooking proper meals, hanging out with friends and family, watching movies and TV series, reading, listening to music, exploring new places, and going to bed early (10 pm).

Be careful not to conflate other people’s idea of fun as what you find fun. When you’re in the middle of what’s supposed to be a great time, take a mental note of how much you’re genuinely enjoying it. Separate the hype from your experience.

As the semester drew to a close, I tried to make up for lost time. I did alright, but I knew there was room for improvement. I desired a change. In the next semester, I delved deep into topics like self-development and behaviour change. I had ranked third in my class, but I began to wonder—if I pushed myself, could I reach second or even first place?