Navigating the maze

Written by Aisha Abdool Karim in Senior Editorial

When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I wanted to be an independent adult out there in the world doing grown up things and having life all figured out. By now, and I’m sure most of you are on the same page as me with this, I’ve realised that adulthood is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It comes with a ton of responsibilities and you mostly just pretend to have everything together while you scramble to some semblance of order in your life.

Another joy that comes with being an adult is having to navigate the world through a series of structures and rules. It’s no longer easy to do whatever you want and forget about the consequences. Now, it requires that you are able to pass an obstacle course, which tests intense manoeuvres you may have never attempted before.

That’s the beauty of bureaucratic structures. They are so needlessly complex and convoluted that you spend half your time trying to figure where to go next and by the time you get there you’ve forgotten what you were trying to achieve. Or you get sent around in circles from one person to the next until eventually you just give up – because what could be worth that.

My approach was always ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ – and adulthood really tested me in this respect. I used to think, and I still (mostly) believe, that if you try hard enough you can achieve anything. However, my belief was never challenged until I encountered University.

I wish I could be dramatic and talk about the stacks of paperwork churned out by the bureaucratic machine that you have to fill out before you even start, or the challenge of the new maze of giant buildings, with no guide and no escape route. Truth is, it’s easy being in first year. You never get lost and are easily integrated into the system. People are ready to help.

The sad news though, is that it can only go downhill from there. Once you’ve settled and feel like you’ve got campus life under control, you may decide to start getting adventurous. Maybe you join a few societies or explore what the university has to offer. Either way, it’s time to stop getting so comfortable and really throw yourself into university life. As I’m sure is evident from the fact that you’re reading this, I chose VARSITY Newspaper.

What could possibly be so difficult about a newspaper? It’s literally just writing a few words on a page. That’s what I thought, but, sadly, I was mistaken. Over the past year alone I have had to navigate confusing structures with little to no guidance. I have searched online, in the library, and archives trying to find long lost and forgotten documents. I have e-mail chains that I can’t even follow anymore because they went back and forth for months. I have sat in interviews or received statements where no one ever says anything or refuses to answer your questions.

I have had to learn every way possible to work the system in order to follow up on a lead and get my article done. It’s not just a few words on a page that we randomly strung together. Every single article takes work. We navigate the maze for you; we knock on doors, send e-mails, and read policy documents. All in the hopes that we can provide a straightforward map for you.

We want to be able to inform you properly and we want to save you the time of having to figure out where to go and who to ask. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least now you know that you’re not the only one lost in the maze and that if you get stuck, there are always others around to help you find the right path.

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