Walk of shame or stride of pride?By Catherine Holdsworth
If you’re at university, then there’s one sight you’ll be very familiar with...
... the bleary-eyed student inappropriately dressed for the time of day, stumbling along their way home; or that poor soul leaning against the window of the bus desperately trying to stay awake and remember to get off at the right place. In other words: the walk of shame.
In the real world, this is usually limited to a Saturday or Sunday morning after one too many at the office party but at university, anything goes and there’ll usually be someone dressed weirdly just after ten o’clock (it’s not polite to stay later!) trying to remember how to get back to the safety of their own home.
During my time at university, I saw an assortment of bedraggled individuals waiting for the bus and one man wearing a tank top and tiny shorts covered in UV paint looking like he should be in Magaluf. But the question remains, can the walk/bus/car/train (delete as appropriate) ever be done with dignity the morning after?
I went to a campus university, which was an incredibly problematic 15 minute bus ride from town. I knew a guy who thought it’d be fun to play sexual jailbreak and ended up having to get two busses along the motorway back to university!
Whether I missed the last bus and had to stay on a friend’s sofa or was so drunk that I thought that staying in town was a good idea at the time, I have been in that very unfortunate group of people that had to make the Everest of all journeys back to my room. When you wake up in the morning, there’s only one thing on your mind: ‘how am I going to get home alive?’ Suddenly, just like Dorothy, you’re marooned in a strange place and no matter how many times you click your four-inch heels together, getting home is not so easy. No matter how you do it (I’ve personally walked, bussed and once ashamedly called my housemate for a lift), you’re always going to look out of place and might as well be carrying a massive placard. Being discreet is impossible.
Girls, in particular, face a whole world of problems. Firstly, we usually go out in heels, miniskirts and low tops. While looking brilliant the night before, it is not generally socially acceptable to be trotting around in broad daylight like this, unless you’re on Geordie Shore! Even if you borrow a hoody or some other form of clothing, it’s still perfectly obvious that you’ve been up to no good. Then there’s the smudged make up and unruly hair that, 12 hours before looked perfect and now looks messy, untameable and screams ‘I should have stopped at two drinks’. It is fair to say that students can get away with most crazy things they do but if you’re doing the walk of shame, you’re inevitably going to get tuts from the grannies on the street and judgemental looks when you tell the bus driver you only want a ‘single’.
And those in relationships are not safe from this curse either. I once had to pick my friend up from her boyfriend’s as she’d packed spare clothes and forgotten flat shoes. She thought she’d planned everything so carefully and even then would be protected by the glow every new relationship brings with it. But no; she was equally as doomed as the rest of us.
Nevertheless, this is a huge learning curve and life experience and one that I believe every student should go through at least once during their degree. You can be comforted in the fact that you are not the only one who has gone through this horrific ordeal and by no means the last person to think they can do it effectively only to fail when you start hobbling from the pain caused by your shoes. So hold your head high and stride on, maybe you’ll learn from this experience. Personally, I love looking out for the walk-of-shamers; it brightens up my day when I think, ‘thank god it’s not me’!