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The art of being silly

Molly Dineley makes a case for being silly as an integral part of maintaining balance at university.

At the end of term, you can walk the streets of Oxford and see a certain look in the eyes of all the students you meet; the fatigue of eight weeks of work mixed with a vacancy that can only be seen in someone who has experienced too many Bridge Thursdays. With each new term your hopes rise. This is the one, you think, that will turn out perfectly. Then reality sets in by week five at the latest.  Rinse and repeat. But what can you do to keep yourself sane when you have to stay in the library for the third night in a row? Or if you have to bail on a hangout because you still haven’t finished a presentation due tomorrow? The only thing that can really work is to go off the rails a little. As a treat. Most of the people here go a little crazy from the general world anyways, so why not lean into it?

I’ve been told countless times about the importance of a work/life balance, but maybe the real metric we must measure ourselves against is the stillness/silliness balance. Stillness is necessary for your silliness. Taking moments to enjoy the quiet of life makes the loud moments more interesting. What’s the point of coming to what might be one of the most ‘serious’ institutions in the world and letting that go unchallenged? Of course, being silly is more than just a mere feeling – it’s a mindset. You could be silly every now and then, but there is joy to be obtained from committing to silliness even in your most serious moments. In your tutorials you may know everything you need to, but sometimes the best memories are the times when you could laugh with your tutors about a topic.

Possibly the best way to make friends is by being silly. I do many a silly thing with my friends (the silliness of that sentence is not lost on me), including a termly week seven cat maid bar crawl (which has previously been erroneously labelled the ‘animaid society’). Big or small, these actions make us who we are and bring us together into groups, each with its own quirks. Whilst sharing the same sense of humour and doing frivolous things together for the sake of it can be a bonding activity, silliness is also a way of creating your own individual identity. Self-expression often comes from the ‘silly’ in life, whether it’s the whimsical application of neon eyeliner in the morning, or dancing randomly on Cornmarket Street with your friends to scare the tourists. 

So, at least once before the end of this summer term, give yourself license to do something stupidly silly and sillily stupid while you’re still here. Go crazy! Be your truest self. Have fun in the sun. Use lots of inane mental health slogans in your daily vocabulary. Keeping yourself upright amidst the wave of work that comes each week is no easy feat. Let yourself be silly in as many little ways as possible.

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