I graduated 4 years ago. I didn’t have a job or a direction that I wanted to pursue. I spent a year loving backpacking, hating unpaid internships and eventually ended up filling out job applications all over again. My self-esteem took a huge hit when my first 80 or so applications were rejected over 6 months, but I eventually landed a role with Amazon and went on to work on the launch of two of the first robotics warehouses in Europe. After a promotion and getting a bigger team, I quit.
I am now moving to the South of Italy to start a Social Enterprise.
I was concerned that the time and money I spent on university wasn’t teaching me how to succeed at life. I now realise that I was learning these things anyway. Growing from being a highly dysfunctional teenager to a relatively stable adult – just without knowing it.
I had always grown up in cities and University Park was the first time I could spend time surrounded by trees. I used to take long walks around the lake to clear my head and that habit has recently developed into trail running. It still clears my head like nothing else. I often felt guilty for wasting time with friends, but these are now the same people I call when I need to talk. I severely underestimated the therapeutic benefit of having a handful of close friends. It can be hard not to lose each other, but strong shared experiences build friendships that last.
At university I also accepted for the first time that I suffered from depression. This acceptance has been the single biggest step towards living a meaningful life with it. To anyone who might be struggling with this, talk to someone. It’s the brave thing to do. Nature, friends and acceptance have served as the roots that centre me every day.
“It takes courage to say no”
Ironically, my favourite lesson came from skipping lectures. Sometimes this was for submissions or societies and having the freedom to choose what was important was new to me. I slowly realised that doing everything means doing nothing. It takes courage to say no. Sticking to a decision was an interesting challenge. While choosing what is important may be a science, I found that getting myself to follow up was an art. In the end, it is true that the degree got me a job, but it was being able to prioritise and focus that made me successful there.
Patience and discipline have been the wings that carry me wherever I go. So without realising, my time at Nottingham gave me a chance to grow roots and wings.
Though it seems relevant, I would be a fool if I tried to dispense career advice here. Hard as it is to accept, the universe is infinitely stranger than we will ever understand. I am confident that each one of us will find the careers and lives that we are looking for.
“…try something new: you’re sure to remember it more than doing the usual”
Instead, I’m here to tell you to be patient. Things will work out, but they will take time. In the meantime, try something new: you’re sure to remember it more than doing the usual. I often think of my experience running an ultramarathon and spending three weeks in two silent meditation retreats. I don’t remember the shorter runs and meditation sittings that are now part of my weekly routine. New experiences keep the fire within us.
I’ll leave you with the wisdom that a lecturer once shared with me. Whenever confronted by a decision, remember that there are no right or wrong answers. Just choices that we make, and the stories of our lives that unfold as a result.
Have faith and enjoy the ride.